Adams State HEAL students make their mark


Thirteen students recently received their master of arts in Higher Education Administration & Leadership (HEAL) from Adams State University. This was the second group to complete the online program, which works to prepare leaders of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Dr. Melissa L. Freeman, HEAL program director, praised the graduates' commitment to higher education and social justice issues. "As these students walked across that stage, I looked into the eyes of the future of higher education. I felt confident that with bright, dedicated individuals such as ASU's HEALers, higher education will do great things for generations to come. I couldn't be more proud."

Dr. Melissa Freeman, director of Adams State University's HEAL program (far left) with the 2013 class of Master's degree recipients: Amanda Atencio, Adams State University, Rob Barros, Front Range Community College; Angela Benfatti, Otero Junior College; Rebecca Cabildo, Northern New Mexico College; Victoria Obregon, Colorado State University Puebl; Jose Guardiola, Metro State University; Erica Ingalls, Metro State University; Rubin Rodrigues; Cristina Sandoval, Intellitech College; and John Sandoval, Colorado State University Pueblo. -30-

Both these graduates and current HEAL students have advanced in their careers and/or been recognized for academic work during the course of their studies:

2013 HEAL graduates:

  • Ron Barros was recently named Director of Academic Services with Front Range Community College.
  • Angela Benfatti was promoted to Director of Financial Aid at Otero Junior College in July 2012.
  • Rebecca Cabildo presented "Disability as Diversity" at the March 2013 New Mexico Association of Academic Advisors (NMAAA), held in Espanola, New Mexico.
  • Victoria Obregon was named Outstanding Professional Employee of the year at Colorado State University-Pueblo for 2013. She was also named to the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation Board in 2013 and attended Leadership Pueblo in 2013. In addition, she presented "The 'New' Mexican Student" at the 2013 Histories of New Mexico Conference in El Rito, New Mexico, as well as "Hands in the Field" with Dr. Melissa L. Freeman at the January 2013 College Personnel Association of Colorado (CPAC) Conference in Denver, CO.
  • Mark Pittman presented with Dr. Melissa L. Freeman "Using Theoretical Models to Navigate Work Transitions" at the January 2013 College Personnel Association of Colorado (CPAC) Conference in Denver, CO. He also Received the Top 6 Program Award at the November 2012 Association of Inter Mountain Housing Officers (AIMHO) Regional Conference in Billings, MT, where he presented "Considering the Current Context of Student Conduct."

Current HEAL students (to graduate 2014:

  • Rachel Anderson was named Employee Advocate of the Year by the Colorado Community College System Office, July 2012.
  • Geraldo (Jerry) Guerra was awarded the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award for San Antonio College.
  • Julie Mordecai presented "Fundraising in Rural Communities" at the Association of Fundraising Professionals at the October 2012 Conference in Vail, CO.
  • David Wright presented with Dr. Melissa L. Freeman "Retention Challenges Facing Native American Students in Higher Education" at the February/March 2013 New Mexico Higher Education Assessment & Research (NMHEAR) Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

HEAL was created three years ago through a $280,928 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare leaders of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). This focus makes HEAL unique among graduate programs and helps create an advancement path for Hispanic professionals.

Conducted primarily online, the 36-credit program is targeted to entry and mid-level professionals at HSIs. An 18-credit certificate program is available to those who already hold master's degrees.

Hispanics comprise about 20 percent of America's college students, with 54 percent attending Hispanic Serving Institutions -- a federal designation for colleges and universities with student enrollment that is least 25 percent Hispanic. Adams State was the first four-year institution in Colorado to be designated an HSI, with undergraduate Hispanic enrollment at 32 percent.

By Julie Waechter