New videos show off ‘A Place for You at CU’

CU staff members discuss facing challenges, using experiences to support others

In high school, Dominic Martinez, senior director in the Office of Inclusion and Outreach on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, was told he wasn’t smart enough to succeed. Army veteran Sgt. Phillip Morris, director of the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, knows firsthand the difficulty of transitioning from the military to college life. Both men want prospective students to know there is “A Place for You at CU.”

Videos featuring Martinez and Morris, produced through the Office of Academic Affairs, outline the challenges faced by diverse communities and the support available through Diversity and Excellence Grants and other programs at CU.

“‘A Place for You at CU’ shows our audience that CU provides welcoming pockets of community to serve the needs of a diverse student population,” said Thomas Spahr, academic affairs planning, programming and policy analyst.

Martinez, who earned his doctorate in education at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a first-generation college graduate from a small town in Wyoming. He overcame economic hardships and doubts about his intellectual abilities growing up.

“Growing up stuttering, I was placed in a track where I was labeled unintelligent,” Martinez said. “Because of that, I always had this inferior mindset that I was never good enough.”

The opportunity of college has opened doors in his life and he has in turn dedicated his career to building a pipeline of diverse undergraduate students who will be ready to make the transition into health-related graduate programs at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

“What I do in my role today is reach out to those underserved populations  and empower them and provide them the tools and the mechanisms to be successful in the health career professions,” he said.

Morris’ office has developed a suite of programs to help former soldiers make the transition to civilian life and college.

“When you take the uniform off, universally for our servicemen and women, it can be difficult to really find your place, what your purpose is,” Morris said.

UCCS has more than 1,300 veterans enrolled. The peer mentoring program helps establish a network of vets on campus who serve as support for incoming veterans, and a safety net for our returning soldiers who are adapting to their new identities as students, Morris said.

“We’ve been fortunate to get funds from the Diversity and Excellence grants to support students and provide scholarships that our peer mentors can use,” Morris said.

These are the first two in a three-part video series promoting resources for diverse populations through programs and people at the University of Colorado. The videos will be used for recruitment and general education efforts throughout the state and beyond.

“The series shows that not only is CU providing spaces for diverse populations to adapt, learn and grow as students, but also that the dedicated faculty and staff make creative use of available resources – like the Diversity and Excellence Grants – to establish innovative programs to support diverse student populations,”  Spahr said.

The videos were produced through CU Online at CU Denver, and student interns took part in the project. A third video, featuring a CU-Boulder student, is expected to be completed within the next few weeks. CU Online also is editing 30-second versions of each video to distribute to TV stations for possible use as public service announcements.