What does “Latin@” mean?
“Latino” refers to the male gender, and “Latina” refers to the female gender. “Latin@” uses the @ sign—which looks like the letters “o” and “a” put together—in an effort to include all people, no matter their gender.
When Denver Latino/a community leaders Ron Cabrera and Frank Davila, who are also alums of CU Denver’s School of Education & Human Development (SEHD), approached Dean Rebecca Kantor about creating a program focused on developing Latino/a leadership in education, she asked the faculty to start thinking.
Now, two years later, the Latin@ Learners and Community cohort is available as an area of concentration in the Doctorate of Education (EdD) program, for principals, superintendents and instructional leaders. Kantor and her SEHD team moved quickly on the Latino/a EdD cohort initiative in order to address the scarcity of Latino/a leaders in education in Colorado.
“We have an underrepresentation of people of Latino/a/x heritage in education, period,” said Carlos P. Hipolito-Delgado, PhD, associate professor in the SEHD Counseling program. “But when you look at principal and district administrator positions, that number is even less, and that’s concerning. There’s also a huge education achievement and potential gap for Latino/a/x students. With this cohort, we are training a new batch of leaders keenly attuned to the needs of Latino/a/x communities.”
One of those aspiring leaders enrolled in the new program is Jose Silva, who grew up across the street from the present-day CU Denver campus, went to Denver Public Schools and graduated from West High School. When Silva was a child, his family was living in a poor community, his mother was addicted to drugs and he witnessed the murder of a friend.
“Everything was stacked against me,” said Silva, who now leads the Pearl Group, a nonprofit organization in Longmont that supports single-parent families. “As a black and Latino Denver native, I feel a great sense of responsibility to rise up and get the education and life experience to be able to create a stronger voice for action for our communities. This degree will afford me the skills and credibility I need to make that happen.”
Silva is one of 25 students enrolled in the inaugural Latin@ EdD cohort class, which also includes an Aurora Central High School administrator, an ESL teacher in Lafayette and a VP from the Community College of Denver.
“This is going to be an exciting group to work with,” Hipolito-Delgado said. “I want these students to be change agents, to eliminate barriers and create opportunities for education and community success.