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Thursday, June 8, 2023

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Jessica Moreno Jessica Moreno

First Student Earns SDSU University Seal of Biliteracy and Cultural Competence

The USBCC demonstrates a student’s proficiency in another language and culture.
By SDSU News Team

“We are proud to bestow this prestigious distinction on students who have invested time in elevating their bilingual competence through the USBCC experience.”

As a transborder Hispanic-Serving Institution near the U.S.-Mexico international border, San Diego State University is developing innovative ways to promote and celebrate its location in the California-Baja California region.

Introduced this semester in a collaboration among SDSU International Affairs, Fowler College of Business and the International Business program, University Seal of Biliteracy and Cultural Competence (USBCC) was forged to develop a standardized measurement of biliteracy skills, which assess proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking a language other than English. In addition to demonstrating language proficiency, students hoping to earn this distinction must also demonstrate successful engagement in a cultural and linguistic experience. 

Jessica Moreno, a San Diego native, became the university’s first student to earn the newly developed SDSU USBCC in Spanish. 

Moreno said that although her first language is Spanish, which is spoken in her home, she has taken pride in fine-tuning her Spanish fluency. 

“I took advanced placement Spanish classes in high school where I was taught reading and writing skills using the proper grammar,” she said. “Throughout my years in school, I learned to speak, write and read English. However, my preferred language is Spanish.” 

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The SDSU USBCC was made possible through a three-year grant obtained through the California Department of Education’s Multilingual California Initiative and in collaboration with the California Association for Bilingual Education. This grant pays for students' exam preparation, the cost of the exam and personnel to support students. 

Interim Vice President of International Affairs Cristina Alfaro, who championed the grant, spoke about the value of the USBCC as a badge of distinction. 

“SDSU International Affairs views biliteracy as an asset that makes students more competitive as they enter the workforce in their chosen fields,” she said. “We are proud to bestow this prestigious distinction on students who have invested time in elevating their bilingual competence through the USBCC experience. They are poised to make an impact for years to come by helping bridge cultural and linguistic divides wherever they go. We look forward to expanding this Seal to more colleges and more languages in the very near future.”

As Moreno prepares to graduate with a bachelor's degree in general business from the Fowler College of Business in the summer session of 2021, she is confident that the Seal will open additional job opportunities for her. 

“Receiving the SDSU USBCC means a lot because it recognizes and proves that I am proficient in two languages,” she said. “This Seal will open job opportunities in the near future, and I will be a greater asset to any company. I am very proud and honored that International Affairs created a pathway and gave me the opportunity to take this exam. I have been working hard, and I am happy to say that I will set a great example for both of my children.”

SDSU plans to expand the USBCC to additional languages and majors for international and exchange students, as well as graduate students. Students interested in obtaining a USBCC can complete this interest form and visit the USBCC website for more information.