When Rogelio Riojas, ’77, first walked into the Instructional Center on the Seattle campus he was impressed by how much the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity resource was helping students tackle some of the most challenging classes, the ones that would open the doors for them to explore different fields, particularly science and medicine. He also recognized the need and potential for not-for-profits and other corporations to meet their missions of community outreach by supporting students who are underrepresented in higher education.
Riojas is the founder and executive director of Sea Mar Community Health Centers. Since 1978, the non-profit has provided health clinics and health education services to diverse communities around Washington. But that’s just his day job. He has also served as a UW Regent and, in doing so, draws from his own experience as a first-generation Latino student navigating the classrooms and challenges of college at the UW and as a healthcare leader in Washington.
Sea Mar, which was founded by Latino community leaders in 1978, is a community-based not-for-profit committed to providing quality health, educational and cultural services to diverse communities. For the past 25 years, the organization has held charity golf tournament to provide college scholarships for students from farmworker families.
Last fall, the organization took a new step. Sea Mar partnered with MultiCare Health Systems to develop a $100,000 gift to OMA&D and the Office of Equity and Inclusion at UW Tacoma. The funding supports undergraduates in both Seattle and Tacoma, where MultiCare is headquartered. The two health organizations are proud to invest in the future leaders who graduate from the UW, says Riojas. “We know UW students represent the next generation of healthcare professionals in our region, and both our organizations want to be there to support their success.”
The generosity of these two pillars of Washington’s non-profit healthcare community will benefit students now and for generations to come, says Rickey Hall, Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity and University Diversity Officer.
Riojas hopes the support with reach the students who need it most, particularly those who might pursue careers that support human health and wellbeing.