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US university helps keep Hispanic youth in education


10-12-2012 11:07 BJT


By CCTV Correspondent Ginger Vaughn

There are 50 million Hispanics in the United States, making up about 17 percent of the population. While they are the largest minority in the country, Hispanics fall behind other minorities in education. Our correspondent Ginger Vaughn reports from Houston on how that’s leading to initiatives to turn around education system.

In the US, 19% of Latino adults aged 25 to 64 had earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 38% of adults of all races, says the Hispanic education advocacy group, Excelencia in Education.

In Texas-where the number of Hispanic residents is twice the national average -the situation is worse. Forty percent of Hispanics 25 and older never graduated from high school.

There’s a lot to work to do says Lorenzo Cano of the Center for Mexican-American Studies at the University of Houston. The center’s "academic achiever’s" program is dedicated to pushing youth through high-school and onto a college education.

Lorenzo Cano from the University of Houston said, "These yong people if they come from, definately need to develop their leadship skills and empower their community collectively."

Education experts say that part of the challenge begins at home, where many struggling immigrant parents know little about higher-education.

Rebeca Trevino from the University of Houston said, "Parents of these kids didn’t go to college here. Perhaps they will be the first one in their family to go to college. So they are not prepared for the challenges."

Some of the best advocates are other university students, who say culture and financial issues are the biggest hurdles they face.

Yanhel Ponce, a college freshman, said, "I can relate because my parents don’t know anything about financial aid. They don’t read English, so this program supports students like us."

College student Fatima Deleon said, "I tell students that the financial resources are there, they just need to know where those resources are. I got through 4 years through scholarships and didn’t pay a dime."

While educators here agree that time is needed to improve graduation rates, students like Ponce are already pursuing a college degree and spreading the word to other Hispanic students.


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