This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Catherine Moran.
Officials celebrated the official launch of the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute at a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday.
Alumnus Gilbert Cisneros and his wife Jacki Cisneros donated $7 million last year to create the institute, which will run a pre-college program for high school students who are interested in leadership and service in the Hispanic community and provides $25,000 in GW scholarships.
The leadership institute officially moved into a townhouse on G Street Wednesday.
Cisneros said during the ceremony that he became passionate about helping students succeed after seeing so many of his Latino peers not attend college or drop out.
“I went from high school to the next level,” Cisneros said. “I was lucky to go to college.”
Cisneros said during the ceremony that the institute will increase GW’s diversity and will encourage Latino students to get more involved on campus.
“It’s going to bring in students who bring in different perspectives from different parts of the country,” he said.
University President Steven Knapp said the Cisneros Institute is important to encourage diverse students to apply and attend GW, as well as to set an example for opportunity at higher education institutions.
“For our democracy we have to have situation in which everyone in our society perceives the opportunities from institutions like this are available to everyone,” Knapp said. “That not only has to be a reality, that has to be a visible reality. The Cisneros Leadership Institute is one of the most powerful ways we can make that statement to the world beyond the walls of our campus.”
Guillermo Martinez, a junior double majoring in political science and political communication who received a scholarship from Cisneros’ donation, said the scholarship has given him the opportunity to meet Latino leaders and has helped his family afford his education.
Martinez said he remembered that while he was interning at Congress and working as a summer RA, he talked with his mom on the phone about how his family would have to make financial adjustments if his financial aid package decreased.
“Two days later, I received an email saying that I was selected as a Cisneros scholar,” he said. “At first I couldn’t believe it, but I can honestly say this award came at the right moment.”