The National Hispanic Institute (NHI) presented its College of the Year Award to the University of Rochester during the organization's annual Celebración in San Antonio, Texas, last weekend. Jonathan Burdick, dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Rochester, accepted the award on behalf of the University.

Established in 1979, the National Hispanic Institute is an international organization that provides young Latinos with opportunities for leadership training, community service, and personal development. The College of the Year Award recognizes the University's commitment to creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for students enrolled in NHI programs, most notably, its Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, which Rochester has hosted for six years.

"The University of Rochester does more than simply host our programs, they have changed the lives of the students who visit their campus," said Ernesto Nieto, president and founder of NHI. "Rochester provides our students with first class attention. When they visit the University, they feel embraced and welcomed, and through this award, we appreciate and recognize that."

In 2006, the University began its partnership with NHI, bringing 150 high school students, mostly from Texas and California, to the Northeast for the first time to participate in the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session (LDZ). The program—named for the man who played a significant role in the Texas War of Independence and served as the new republic's first vice president—is designed to let students envision themselves as future community leaders by engaging them in a mock government. During the week, students hold elections, pass legislation, and learn to negotiate and collaborate, among other skills. In 2006, the University also launched the LDZ scholarship, which provides financial assistance to students who have participated in the summer program and are accepted into one of Rochester's undergraduate programs.

"We know that by supporting high school students through programs such as LDZ, they can achieve college-readiness," said Burdick. "We are proud of our partnership with NHI and our ability to work with them to provide scholarships and counseling support to the students enrolled in their programs."

Rochester is among 16 other colleges and universities across the country that partners with NHI through its College Register program, which focuses on developing the Latino college campus community. For more information about NHI and the College Register, visit their website at