Marking the Biden-Harris administration’s first visit to California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal came to campus on April 7 to engage with students, learn how the university supports historically underserved and underrepresented college students, and discuss how the government can enact similar best practices on a national level.
Kvaal first met with CSUDH administrators, who provided the under secretary with an overview of CSUDH’s unique student population–the university has some of the highest rates of underrepresented, Pell-eligible, and first-generation students in the CSU. Kvaal shared his excitement about the university’s strides in student success, adding that he’d been wanting to visit CSUDH “for years.”
The group also discussed the impact of federal and state funding, the university’s status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and CSUDH’s progress with Graduation Initiative 2025, the CSU’s ambitious effort to ensure all students, regardless of background, have an equal opportunity to earn a college degree.
“Our students overcome historic, systemic barriers to pursue their education,” said Michael E. Spagna, CSUDH Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Under Secretary Kvaal’s visit was an honor and an opportunity to shine a light on the unique challenges our student population faces.”
Kvaal also met with CSUDH students representing a variety of campus resources, including the McNair Scholars Program, TRIO Student Support Services, Basic Needs Initiative, Toro Dreamers Success Center, STEM Scholars, and the Educational Opportunity Program to hear firsthand about their experiences. Students discussed how the tailored support they receive–mentoring, advising, and networking–enables them to connect to resources and make concrete steps toward their goals.
Challenges such as food and housing insecurity, long commutes, and balancing parenting and jobs with schooling, among other issues that face CSUDH’s population, also came to the forefront. Students were grateful and enthusiastic for the help they get from CSUDH faculty and staff, but also emphasized the need for more government support.
“Dominguez Hills does not waste its resources,” one student said. “Everything is used perfectly–to a T. Whether it’s a private resource or state or federal funding, it is used correctly and wisely.”
Kvaal thanked the students for speaking up about the issues impacting them, saying that “it’s really important that we hear from the people that we’re trying to help.”
“This time has been very valuable for me,” he added. “I want to say how impressed I am by this group of students. I think you have some very bright futures ahead of you, and it makes me feel good about the future of the country and the L.A. region here.”