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Multicultural Alumni Chapter Provides Opportunities for Success

January 4, 2018
four people standing in front of a marquee tent

The Multicultural Alumni Chapter is working to bring UW alumni together to enhance the experience for UW students from diverse backgrounds. The leaders of this chapter, Dominic F. Martinez and Christian Valtierra, remain active in support of UW and are linked by many similarities and connections in their lives. Both grew up in Rawlins, Wyo. Both attended UW to study secondary education, Martinez graduating in ’98 and Valtierra in ’05. Both work for the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus’s Office of Inclusion and Outreach — Martinez as senior director, Valtierra as assistant director. But it was their experience as multicultural students at UW that helped them forge lifelong connections and the desire to engage with UW students.

Martinez explains that when he came to UW in the mid-1990s, there was not much diversity among the student body. In fact, he describes the period as a time of racial unrest. But a group worked together to start the United Multicultural Council (UMC), and the student body elected its first minority president (Jason Thompson, B.A. ’90 and M.A. ’98), with Martinez as vice president. “We needed to create a warm and welcoming environment for future generations of multicultural students,” Martinez says of his decision to seek election.

For Valtierra, the UMC was about making sure every student at UW had the opportunity to be successful. “Because our numbers were small, it drove us to work together as a unit, with the opportunity to interact with all walks of life. The value of joining together is a valuable asset I’ve been able to take away with me,” Valtierra says.

Valtierra’s vision of the future is that diversity and inclusion offices like the one where he and Martinez work will be unnecessary. “If I am out of a job, we’re making inroads. I think about that future, that society as a whole would embrace the notion of diversity and learning from others.”

Martinez says he wants to be able to see all students have opportunities. “So many doors are shut on these students before they’ve reached their full potential. Some adults in their lives said they are not good enough to succeed.”

Valtierra explains his desire to stay connected with multicultural students at UW. “The assistance and support we received from prior generations was instrumental to supporting me.”

“We as alumni need to be prime examples of that,” Martinez says, “and think about giving back, being mentors, providing internships, being the people who open doors for these students who are looking into going in certain fields, try to build a level playing field.”

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