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University's LEAD Initiative Receives Diversity Award

American Public Works Association honors Minnesota State Mankato's Latino Engineering & Academic Day.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 5-9-2014

Mankato, Minn. – The American Public Works Association (APWA) recently named Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Latino Engineering & Academic Day (LEAD) initiative as the winner of its 2014 Diversity Exemplary Practices Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to diversity.

It is the first time since the award was first presented in 1997 that it has been awarded to a Minnesota initiative or organization. It will be presented on Monday, Aug. 18 in Toronto, Ontario, in conjunction with the 2014 International Public Works Congress and Exposition at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Latino Engineering & Academic Day has been held annually for the last six years on the Minnesota State Mankato campus. Its mission is to increase Latino high school students’ access to higher education through a day of mentoring with engineering professionals, hands-on engineering demonstrations, Latino-specific college preparation workshops and much more.

Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport said the award reflected the University’s commitment to diversity.

“I’d like to congratulate all of those who have worked on the LEAD initiative on receiving this Diversity Exemplary Practices Award,” said Davenport. “Latino Engineering and Academic Day is one of the many events held on campus that demonstrate diversity as one of the university’s core values, and we are very proud to receive this recognition.”

Latino Engineering & Academic Day has served more than 1,200 Latino high school students in six years, including 150 at this year’s event, held April 1. High schools attending the 2014 event included Sleepy Eye, Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop, Fairmont, Austin, Albert Lea, Champlin Park and Blaine.

Currently there are eight Latino students who participated in the program while in high school who are now enrolled in engineering programs at Minnesota State Mankato.

Nadia Crooker, who works as a school liaison/migrant outreach worker for Sleepy Eye Public Schools, said that Latino Engineering & Academic Day has been of tremendous benefit to high school students.

“Since its inception, this event has been one of a kind,” said Crooker. “It has targeted Hispanic youth who never dared to even think about engineering as a career. It has shown them that they, too, can attend college, and that a career in engineering is very attainable to them. By bringing in Latino engineers to this event every year, these students have gained role models and something they may not have had before, and that is hope.”

Latino Engineering & Academic Day is directed by Minnesota State Mankato’s Division of Institutional Diversity in collaboration with the university’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology, Center for Latino Affairs and Opportunity Access Success Intercultural Services (O.A.S.I.S.) along with the Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (MNCEME) and sponsors Bolton & Menk, Inc. and Hormel Foods.

The Latino Engineering & Academic Day initiative was nominated for the 2014 Diversity Exemplary Practices Award by Bolton & Menk, Inc., an engineering and surveying firm that has its corporate office in Mankato.

Program/organization nominations for the APWA Diversity Exemplary Practices Award may come from federal, state or local government units, educational institutions, non-profit institutions and private sector organizations.

A complete list of previous recipients of the APWA Diversity Exemplary Practices Award is available here.

Minnesota State Mankato’s Division of Institutional Diversity and campus partners are planning to expand Latino Engineering & Academic Day in the future to Twin Cities locations in addition to continuing to hold the event at Minnesota State Mankato.

For more information on the Latino Engineering & Academic Day, please contact Vicky Hidalgo, recruitment and retention advisor for Opportunity Access Success Intercultural Services, by phone at 507-389-1719 or by email at

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,409 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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