Spanish and Vietnamese Community Members Can Now Access Critical CU Denver Admission and Financial Aid Information in Their Native Languages

Spanish and Vietnamese Community Members Can Now Access Critical CU Denver Admission and Financial Aid Information in Their Native Languages

June 21, 2024

Parents and students can now access important admissions and financial aid information on several of CU Denver’s website pages in Spanish and Vietnamese. It’s the latest project from the institutional Multilingual Strategy Group, led by Associate Vice Chancellor Sam Kim, that’s been working together for more than a year. 

Translating critical pieces of information that can open doors to higher education is another example of how CU Denver is living up to one of its strategic goals to become an equity-serving institution, said Antonio Farias, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The goal is to make CU Denver more accessible to diverse families whose first language may not be English. The websites have a tab at the very top of the page that can flip the pages to Spanish or Vietnamese to give users broader options to really understand the admissions process and other enrollment resources at the university in their native language. 

Evelin Chanchavac Pastor

For Evelin Chanchavac Pastor, a bilingual fourth-year communications major whose family speaks Spanish, the new resource means her family can be more involved with her education. 

“Having translated materials is important to create an environment in which students and their families feel seen and acknowledged in academic spaces where that has not always been the case,” said Pastor, who is an active member of the Latino Student Alliance student organization on campus. “Providing translated pages will take the pressure off of students who have to translate information for their family members. Parents will have an understanding of their child’s education and can avoid any miscommunication or misinformation that can arise.”

Pastor also said that the program allows for her family to be more involved in her academic career. “As a first-generation student, being in academic spaces my family can’t comprehend becomes lonely, especially as we are so close,” she said. “I often think they can’t fully understand my experience because of the language barrier. Having materials translated feels like a step forward to helping my family understand and be with me.” 

The translation is possible because of software (Weglot) that the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion purchased after consultation with Assistant Vice Chancellor Vivek Arora in the University Communications Office. It translates webpages in real time. Earlier this year, a group of Spanish and Vietnamese speaking volunteers across campus served as editors to review the real-time translations during the beta testing period. Tweaks were made and now the software is working as expected. A form is available to report errors here. A group of students and CU Denver community volunteers will continue to monitor the pages to ensure quality control in the translations. 

The pages that have the website plugin for translation are Undergraduate Admissions, Bursar, Financial Aid, Lynx Central, the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Registrar. The next phase of the group’s ongoing work includes developing a sustainable process to translate PDF documents, flyers, and forms and creating a system for schools, colleges, and units that are interested in adopting the software to fund and incorporate it onto their pages.

Head shot of Jaslyn Nguyen
Jaslyn Nguyen

Jaslyn Nguyen, a fourth-year accounting student and proud member of the Vietnamese community, said she hopes more pages get translated quickly. “Having translated materials is an important way to assure that CU Denver resources are available and accessible to all students and their families,” Nguyen said. “Though knowing English is important, it is not a privilege that is granted to all families, and even if they know English to some degree, many individuals communicate better in their most-practiced language.”

Nguyen added that this will be valuable for families. “I have seen many students who must navigate the enrollment and class registration process alone due to language barriers, and full transparency is not always relayed to parents, which can lead to misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the university,” she said. 

The Multilingual Strategy Group began work in 2022 as part of the university’s strategic plan priorities. Later that year, the Board of Regents asked each campus to prioritize making communication more accessible to Spanish speakers. This work aligns with that directive and reflects Denver’s community demographics. The work also supports CU Denver’s Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) and Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) federal designations.