Members of CU Denver’s faculty and student body attended the Latino Economic Summit, held March 16 on the Auraria Campus, as VIP guests. The event, hosted by the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics and the Aspen Institute, featured First Lady Jill Biden, Gov. Jared Polis, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Bacerra, and other federal and local leaders.
The summit, which emphasized the key role the Latinx community plays in the country’s economic futures, was designed to help advance equity and economic empowerment and to connect local Latino community members directly with federal leaders and resources. Breakout sessions included Digital Equity (presented by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration/U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce), Telehealth (presented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), E-Commerce & Cybersecurity (presented by the Small Business Administration), and Education Equity and Workforce Development (presented by the U.S. Department of Education).
“The summit is happening in various cities across the United States,” said Edelina Burciaga, J.D., PhD, assistant professor of sociology. “Choosing Denver as a site recognizes the city’s history and future as a dynamic place for the Latinx community.”
“One thing that stood out to me is that Latinxs only make up about 10 percent of the federal workforce,” she continued. “One focus of the summit was to encourage members of the Latinx community to explore internship and career opportunities with the federal government, which could benefit CU Denver’s Latinx students.”
CU student Veronica Barajas, an information systems major with a concentration in marketing and a minor in ethnic studies, found First Lady Biden’s talk deeply inspiring. “What stood out to me most was her dedication to bringing a ‘seat to the table’ for Latinos across the U.S.,” she said. “The most important thing I learned at the summit was putting my ‘granito’ toward improving Latino involvement in our community and government. Putting your ‘granito’ into something means putting in your grain of salt and bringing your efforts and knowledge to the table.”
As “the proud descendant of a Mexican family,” student Jose Reyna, a criminal justice major with a minor in business administration who is graduating in May 2022, found the breakout sessions particularly meaningful. “The workshop I attended, which focused on education equity, workforce development, and federal jobs, really helped me feel confident about applying for jobs with the federal government,” he says.