National Advocate for Hispanic Students to Continue Her Work at UConn

Cinthia Satornino, assistant professor of marketing. (Nathan Oldham, School of Business/UConn Photo)
Newly hired marketing professor Cinthia Satornino is committed to boosting the success of Hispanic college students. (Nathan Oldham, School of Business/UConn Photo)

Cinthia Beccacece Satornino hopes to use her expertise as part of a White House educational initiative to assist Hispanic students in completing their college education.

The newly hired faculty member says the statistics for Hispanic students in higher education are “heartbreaking.” Hispanic students are entering college at similar rates as their peers, but the drop-out rate for them is nearly 70 percent, she said.

Satornino, an assistant professor of marketing, joined the School of Business faculty in January, just months after participating in a White House summit, Fulfilling America’s Future: Latinas in the U.S., where she spoke as part of a panel on “Latinas in Education: Reaching our Full Potential.”

Before then-Education Secretary John King, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, and other stakeholders and decision makers, Satornino presented information about the role that Latinas specifically, and Hispanics overall, play in a thriving economy.

Hispanic students are entering college at similar rates as their peers, but the drop-out rate for them is nearly 70 percent. — Cinthia Satornino

The invitation to the White House came on the heels of an April 2016 event at Northeastern University conceived and implemented by Satornino while serving as the co-chair of the Committee for Hispanic Excellence in Business, a Ph.D. Project/White House Initiative. This first-of-its-kind program brought together business schools, employers, and policy makers to address the struggles of Hispanic students. It was through her work at the Ph.D. Project, an organization that promotes increasing diverse talent in higher education, that she met UConn’s business school dean, John A. Elliott, and was introduced to UConn and its School of Business.

Now she is on the faculty here, Satornino hopes to continue her work on improving college completion among first-generation students.

“The partnerships that have formed as a result of these conversations and interactions have been inspiring,’’ she says. “People are galvanized into action, and that benefits everyone. The approach is, ‘How can we help everyone rise together?’ UConn’s reputation is ripe for taking that on.’’

The Northeast has lagged behind other areas of the country in addressing the potential of Hispanic students, but experts predict a new wave of Hispanic students will soon be charting college searches. That provides an opportunity for the region’s colleges to learn from others, and secure a reputation as a place where Hispanic students thrive, she says.

Moreover, companies are seeking a diverse workforce, and if schools like UConn don’t produce the best-and-brightest across all demographic groups, others will, she adds.

When Satornino graduated with her Ph.D. in marketing from Florida State University, she became only the 26th Hispanic woman to attain that status in the United States.

“That’s shocking,’’ she says.

The daughter of a Colombian mother and an Italian father, Satornino says her mother Betty, a first-generation college student, instilled in her a passion for learning. “She demanded that my siblings and I do well in school, and it became ingrained in me. I have a narrative that runs in my head that says higher education is the way to be successful. I take that mantra seriously.’’

In addition to her teaching experience at Northeastern, Satornino’s expertise includes 15 years as a strategic leader and consultant in various corporate and institutional settings, including the financial sector, higher-education administration, and international agribusiness.

She is also the co-founder of Cordoba Parsons, a research-based consulting company. Her work focuses on uncovering how firms can quantify and leverage their social capital to increase the productivity, innovation, and performance of their salespeople.

Currently, Satornino is teaching the introductory course in marketing management and, next fall, she will take on the capstone course for the senior marketing students.