Christina Vasquez, the director of SUNY Oswego’s CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program), was recently appointed as one of 11 emerging Hispanic/Latinx leaders and allies to become fellows for the 2024 SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) class.

The SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute serves as a resource for Hispanic and Latinx leaders and their allies in higher education, both in New York State and across the country. Its mission is to foster and support the professional development and retention of current and emerging leaders to create a more diverse university system. 

Vasquez took part in a previous Leadership Fellows Program opportunity with the National Community College Hispanic Council before joining SUNY Oswego’s Advisement Center in 2019, and is looking forward to this more SUNY-specific program and network.

“What I’m most excited about with this program is being able to form connections with other Hispanic leaders in the SUNY system,” Vasquez said. “Much like the previous experience, this helps me realign my goals while giving me a network of people who want to help and see people be successful. It also will help me understand what is unique to SUNY.”

The months-long program benefits participants on both the personal and professional levels.

“I look forward to connecting with people with similar cultures and learned experiences, and having important discussions related to what we do and what we can,” Vasquez said. “I’m also hoping to grow professionally.”

While her role with CSTEP is important, this program opens a door to creating a larger impact.

“I love working here, but I know that for change to happen, you have to be at the table, and you have to take advantage of opportunities,” Vasquez said. “I want to be at the table and help be the change.”

CSTEP success

Vasquez has led Oswego’s CSTEP efforts since it returned to campus in 2020 to start a five-year cycle that provides structured services, which contribute to the academic and professional success of students.

Funded by the New York State Department of Education, the CSTEP program aims to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students who are pursuing professional licensure and careers in science, technology, engineering, math, and health-related fields.

On a late November morning, Vasquez is doing one of the best parts of the job –- answering questions, providing resources and offering advice to students in the program. Oswego’s CSTEP relaunched with 95 students and is now at around 120 with a waitlist as participants tell their friends about how much the program has helped them.

“The biggest success of the program is the community that’s built among the students,” Vasquez said. “There is a lot of networking and I spend a lot of time talking to them about life, what’s going on, graduate school or whatever is next. And everything we do has a place in what’s next.”

The program also includes getting students involved in internships and research opportunities, seminars with professional development and financial support for life expenses, including the unexpected.

“We’re doing very well,” Vasquez said of Oswego’s CSTEP. “What’s worked is word of mouth, as students bring their friends to us. It’s taken on a life of its own. Because we don’t have to focus as much on recruitment as we did when we started, we can work more on the elements of the program that help our students.”

For more information on the program, visit the CSTEP website.

About HLI

In announcing HLI’s new class, SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. praised the work of the institute as it launched its seventh cohort since the program’s inception in 2017.

“By working to increase Hispanic and ally representation in leadership positions, the HLI provides its fellows with the skills needed to ensure they are represented at the decision-making table and know they’ll be valued and supported throughout their careers at SUNY,” said SUNY Chancellor King. “These 11 individuals are role models to colleagues and students, and we congratulate them as they start their HLI journey. I would also like to thank our legislative partners for their continued and unwavering commitment to the success of the HLI.”

Thanks to generous support from New York State and the State Assembly’s Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, SUNY’s Hispanic Leadership Institute has uplifted 60 of SUNY’s brightest Hispanic/Latinx faculty and staff and allies. The program supports Hispanic/Latinx leaders and allies through rigorous executive training and provides a network to grow in their positions.

HLI fellows have the unique opportunity to meet with distinguished Hispanic and Latinx leaders and their allies from SUNY and the community at large, both locally and nationally; work with mentors; expand their network; and build connections. HLI creates a pipeline for professional opportunities across SUNY and ensures alumni are networking and receiving ongoing support and mentorship well after they graduate from the program. 

The program has graduated 60 fellows since its inception, including previous SUNY Oswego standouts Roberta Hurtado of the Department of English and Creative Writing and Lizette Alvarado, associate director of the Office of International Education and Programs.