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Serving with Excelencia Library Exhibit Wall September 2022


Puerto Rican Educational Relief Initiative
The Puerto Rican Educational Relief Initiative dates to September 2017, when the UCF Board of Trustees approved instate tuition eligibility through spring 2018 for Puerto Rican and US Virgin Island students impacted by Hurricane Maria. The board later extended instate tuition through summer 2023. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, support structures included: (1) application fee waivers (Undergraduate Admissions); (2) out-of-state tuition waivers (Registrar); (3) orientation fee waivers (First-Year Experience); (4) Federal work-study packages (Student Financial Assistance); (5) Tuition waivers for English Language Institute (UCF Global); (6) credit evaluation and course advising (Transfer and Transition Services); (7) Assistance with off-campus housing placement (Neighborhood Relations); (8) support groups (Counseling and Psychological Services); and (9) culturally responsive campus guidance in Spanish (Office of Diversity and Inclusion). Today, a sense of belonging continues to be nurtured through the Puerto Rican Student Association, Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives, and the Puerto Rico Research Hub.

Puerto Rico Educational Relief Initiative Welcome Dinner

Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program 
The McNair Program serves underrepresented, first generation, and low-income undergraduates who plan to pursue doctoral degrees. The program staff intentionally recruits Latinx students through collaborations with UCF pipeline programs and local state colleges.  McNair harnesses the limitless potential within every student participant. Staff work to address scholars’ individual needs, whether they are a parent with child-care needs, seeking to improve their English writing skills, working various jobs, navigating transfer shock, or face any other challenge common to Latinx students. Beyond research opportunities, financial, and graduate preparation resources, scholars become part of an academic family (comfort and strength). While only funded at the undergraduate level, the program staff regularly meets with alumni, many of them Latinx, to help them navigate graduate school challenges, and cheer them on to doctoral graduation.  This on-going support is particularly important for our Latinx students, who rely on guidance that oftentimes family and friends cannot provide.

Student: Isabella Castro 

Quote: "The exposure to a diverse body of students has been one of the most enriching parts of attending an HSI. Hearing the perspectives of students who come from different backgrounds and being able to engage in learning about international relations from a multicultural lens has overall empowered me as a Latina and future Foreign Service Officer. As a first-generation college student from an immigrant household, my dream of becoming a diplomat felt daunting and almost unreachable at times. The support I’ve received from my mother, my friends, and especially from my McNair Scholars family at UCF has been instrumental in getting me to where I am today. Their encouragement, mentorship, and belief in me has been so influential throughout this journey, and I am so grateful to have such a strong and caring community to share my successes with!"

Isabella Castro, McNair Scholar