Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business Assistant Professor Cinthia Satornino, as part of The PhD Project, a nonprofit that supports minority students and faculty be successful in higher education, has pledged to expand and support educational opportunities for the Latino community. This “Commitment to Action” under The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics addresses the need to support and guide Hispanic-American students to complete their undergraduate degrees and enroll in graduate degree programs.

Satornino will lead the way as co-chair of The PhD Project's Committee on Hispanic Excellence. The committee will recruit Hispanic-American business professors to serve as mentors to Hispanic-American students with the goal of encouraging successful completion of their undergraduate and graduate degrees. The PhD Project currently has a network of more than 1,600 minority business faculty and doctoral students, including 423 Hispanic-American members. Satornino believes strategic outreach and mentoring will allow for significant growth in Hispanic-American involvement.

“Formalizing mentorship programs and providing tools for Hispanic-American faculty and students is the first step, but a powerful one,” says Satornino.

The mentors will also encourage these students to examine a career in business academia, ultimately developing the next generation of Hispanic-American mentors and growing the reach of the program.

According to an Excelencia in Education study, only 20 percent of Latino adults have earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 36 percent of all adults. Satornino explains that this statistic points to a gap in corporate diversity. “Hispanic-American undergraduate students are dropping out at the college level at alarming rates. Ultimately, they are not joining the ranks of business leaders proportionately.”

“Hispanic-Americans value education. They have now and will continue to have a dramatic impact on the future of this country, economically and culturally,” explains Satornino. “It makes addressing the issue of college completion for Hispanic-Americans important not only from an altruistic perspective, but also because of its very real economic and strategic business impact.”

Satornino is one of only 31 female Hispanic-American marketing professors in the United States and offers a vital link between academic and business communities given her extensive corporate background. 

“We have commitments from a number of deans, professors, and professional business organizations in the region who plan to be involved in the initiative, positioning the Northeast to move quickly, and we are dedicated to building the blueprint for the rest of the country,” says Satornino.

In partnership with D'Amore-McKim, Satornino is planning a summit to kick off this initiative in the Northeast and to stimulate the conversation on how schools in the region can attract and retain Hispanic-American undergraduates. She hopes to build a replicable mentorship model to ultimately expand support for Hispanic-American students on a national level.

“Northeastern University and the D'Amore-McKim School of Business are honored to play a leading role in this joint PhD Project and White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics,” says D'Amore-McKim School of Business Dean Hugh Courtney. “We look forward to working with other business schools to define and implement best practices for attracting, retaining, and graduating Hispanic-American students who will become future business and community leaders.”