UTSA graduate admissions program named finalist among 2023 Examples of Excelencia

August 18, 2023
UTSA Graduate School

AUGUST 18, 2023 — The Keep Running With Us (KRWU) program at UTSA has been named a finalist in the graduate category of the 2023 Examples of Excelencia program by Excelencia in Education. Launched in 2020 by the UTSA Graduate School, KRWU enables UTSA to retain talented undergraduate students and alumni pursuing graduate education.

Excelencia is the nation’s premier authority on efforts to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. Each year, the organization shares Examples of Excelencia—initiatives driven by evidence-based practices that are closing equity gaps in higher education and the U.S. workforce. Recognized programs are assessed on the strength of innovative, intentional, culturally relevant and effective high-impact practices tailored to Latino students and their communities.

KRWU offers admission into various master’s programs through the streamlined auto-admit or VIP application process to reduce application completion time and remove many common application barriers. The approach has boosted equitable access to a UTSA education of excellence by increasing the percentage of Latino students admitted into master’s programs. Additionally, as awareness of KRWU has grown, the proportion of the program’s graduates who are Latino has increased annually over the proportion of traditionally admitted Latino graduates.

“It is incredible to see the impact of Keep Running with Us on underrepresented students who would not have otherwise pursued graduate studies,” said Maria Medrano, director of diversity and special projects for the Graduate School. “It is our hope that this program becomes a national model in advancing equity in graduate education.”

Since the program's inception, 55% of UTSA’s newly enrolled graduate students admitted via KRWU are Latino, compared to 50% for traditional admits. Additionally, UTSA’s Latino graduate students admitted through KRWU are graduating annually at a rate of 52% versus 46% for traditional admits.

“My intent in creating the KRWU program was to increase awareness among highly qualified students of the impact a graduate degree has on their career success and lifetime earnings. I appreciate the assistance of Dr. Jeff Ragsdale, our assistant vice provost of graduate studies for the operational excellence of this program,” said Ambika Mathur, UTSA senior vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral studies and graduate dean. “The program’s outcomes were gratifying when KRWU alumni recognized the impact of their degree attainment on their individual development and on their ability to affect broader change in society.”

UTSA Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Heather Shipley added, “UTSA is committed to becoming a model Hispanic thriving university, and we are so appreciative of Excelencia in Education for its recognition of this exemplary program. Congratulations to everyone involved in the Keep Running With Us program. Your work is truly making an impact on the lives of many students and their families.”

In 2020, UTSA earned the prestigious Seal of Excelencia, a comprehensive certification recognizing the university’s commitment and ability to accelerate Latino student success through purposeful policies and systems. The Seal showcases the university’s progress in becoming a Hispanic thriving institution, a model Hispanic Serving Institution that provides the highest quality education to advance social mobility and economic opportunities for Latino students and their communities.

“We bring national attention to the Examples of Excelencia finalists because they show what is possible when serving Latino students in their higher education journeys,” said Adriana Rodriguez, vice president for programs at Excelencia in Education. “Beyond enrollment, these programs implement replicable practices that answer questions of how best to reach Latino students and support them to and through college in today’s landscape.”

KRWU was one of 19 programs across the nation to be selected as an Example of Excelencia finalist. Competitors included 103 programs from 20 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

— Giselle Villalpando

Article published in UTSA Today.