The ethnic studies minor is the third largest in terms of minors on the UC Denver campus.
Now, for the first time, a spring graduation ceremony honored ethnic studies minor graduates and educational opportunity programs graduates.
The May 14 event at the Multicultural Lounge in the Tivoli honored 20 graduates who completed majors from every college on campus, including a large group of premedical students.
"The ethnic studies graduation was held to honor our students and their families," said Donna Langston, professor and chair of the department of ethnic studies. "Education is a path of many journeys; it was a blessing to be a part of the journey that these students completed with their families by their sides. In honoring these students, we honor their families."
The event was attended by a group of approximately 100 students and family members. Ethnic studies founder Cecil Glenn was in attendance. Sgt. Steve Eslary and his family also attended; they recently endowed a scholarship for ethnic studies students.
Sponsors who made the celebration possible included: UPS, 303 S. Broadway, Suite 200; Wells Fargo; Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker, Hutchings, PC; and ANP-CM Photo Elite Ltd.
Courses are varied in the ethnic studies minor and include ethnicity, health and social justice, Chicano/Latino history, history of American Indian and social history of Asian Americans.
"Our ethnic studies students gain cultural competency skills that give them an edge in very competitive job markets," Langston said. "The majority of our graduates will seek employment opportunities in fields that serve very diverse communities."
Some of the individual students included:
- Atnafu Atnafu, whose family is from Ethiopia. He worked with a group of students in Langston's introduction to ethnic studies course to compose a film clip on the visual and verbal reactions interracial couples experienced on the 16th Street Mall. Atnafu served as an officer in the Ethnic Studies Student Organization. One of the events they organized several years ago was a Michael Jackson theme dance.
- Greg Holder (Lakota) attended with his mother; wife, Leslie; and two children. Holder will start graduate school this fall at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, which is close to the Oneida nation where his wife is enrolled. He attended the event on his 36th birthday.
- Holly Amaro was a top GPA student and attends ethnic studies events with her mother and grandmother. Multiple generations are an important part of ethnic studies. Students in Langston's introduction to ethnic studies class are assigned family history papers.
- Sandra Zamora took Langston's introduction to ethnic studies class her first semester and founded a Latina sorority on campus. "I noticed her the first day of class, because she looked so much like my daughter," Langston says.
- Huy Phan has two job offers but is leaning toward working with a group of elders, because he is a people person. He sometimes drives his grandmother to Vietnamese Catholic services in Denver.
- Julian Long worked with a group of students in the American Indian history class to produce a video on the Indian mascot issue in Colorado. He is a College of Arts and Media graduate who will return to New York to live near his mother. He has a 3-year-old daughter.
- Kristen Burback attended the graduation with her father. She is starting graduate school at the University of Missouri in social work, and feels that multicultural skills are critical in this field.
The ethnic studies minor has been available at UC Denver the past 20 years. A proposal for an ethnic studies major is currently at the university community level.