Meet Maria

Maria Soto

Bachelor of Social Work
Class of 2020

At Heritage University, we believe that a college education should be accessible to anyone with the talent and drive to pursue a degree — regardless of economics, culture or geographic locations. Maria is one the of many incredible minds who have proven that access to opportunity can make a lifetime of difference.

We believe it is vital to the future of our world to reverse the historical underrepresentation in higher education and community leadership of some cultural and socioeconomic groups.

Here at Heritage University, we believe

Education is for Everyone

Our Mission

Heritage University empowers a multi-cultural and inclusive student body to overcome the social, cultural, economic and geographic barriers that limit access to higher education. Rooted in the homeland of the Yakama Nation, we embrace transformational student-centered education that cultivates leadership and a commitment to the promotion of a more just society.

Our Students

Heritage is Washington state’s only university to be designated a Hispanic Serving Institution. Additionally, with its percentage of Native American students, it also qualifies to be a Native American Serving Institution. The broad diversity found at Heritage is an asset to all students as this exposure to different ethnicities and cultures helps them succeed in a multicultural workforce.

85% of Heritage students are the first in their family to attend college. To help overcome the challenges faced by first-generation college students, Heritage provides Student Support Services (S3), a federal TriO project to assist first-time and low-income college students and students with disabilities in earning a bachelor’s degree.

Heritage helps first-time students from migrant and seasonal farmworker families by offering college transition support services through the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).

Heritage exists to

Give Talent Opportunity


Joel Ortega

When Joel graduated from high school, he wanted to go to college, but his family circumstance made it next to impossible. He didn’t qualify for traditional financial aid and his family couldn’t afford to pay for tuition. Joel went to work. He spent the next few years dreaming about being a teacher or school counselor while spending his days working in construction to make ends meet.

Last year, he decided it was time to make his dream a reality. He took a leap of faith and enrolled at Heritage. He was able to secure some scholarship funding and had money saved to pay for his first semester of tuition. However, it wasn’t quite enough. Thanks to special funding for DACA students, Joel was able cover the gap that was left between the cost of tuition and the amount that he had saved to pay for school.

Francia Ramos-Rodriguez

Francia has long dreamed of a career in nursing. She’s driven by a desire to help others live their best lives. However, the education she needs to reach her goal appeared to be unobtainable. She’s the oldest in a family of five. Her parents work hard, but their manual labor jobs pay just enough to meet their basic needs without much left over to help Francia pay for college. She works part-time and has been able to secure some non-traditional financial aid to help cover her college expenses, however, it wasn’t enough, the gap left between her available resources and the cost of tuition left her reconsidering her decision to go to college. With help from DACA funding, Francia enrolled as a freshman and dove headfirst into her major, taking several science courses. She’s excited about continuing her studies next semester.

Carlos Paniagua

Carlos has grand expectations for himself. A senior and Business Administration major at Heritage, he aimed to build a career in marketing. Despite having a high financial need, Carlos did not qualify for federal student aid to pay for his college education. However, he was determined to earn his degree. Throughout his studies he worked hard to earn the money he needed to pay for his tuition while maintaining his grades. Then, in his final semester, he found himself short of the full amount he needed to complete his studies. A scholarship for DACA students made it possible for him to fulfill the financial obligation so he could concentrate on earning that degree he worked so hard to obtain, and Carlos graduated from Heritage in May 2020.

Support the American Dream

Make a Gift

Our country was built with the hands and minds of people who arrived looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. When you make a gift to Heritage, you help more hard-working students like Maria achieve their educational goals and make a difference in their community.

For 91% of Heritage University students, a college education would be unobtainable without financial aid support. Through its equity packaging of grants and scholarships, Heritage is able to provide that support to every student with a demonstrated need, thanks in great part to the generosity of private donors.