“We know that when one member of the family has a college degree, it can have a strong and enduring impact on the college outlook of the entire family,” Pino said.
As of 2005, an estimated 42 million Latinos live in the United States and make up the largest minority group. However, Latinos have the lowest high school and college graduation rates of any racial or ethnic group.
Malgorzata Lee, a romance language professor at UNC, said the Hispanic Scholarship Fund can provide a strong encouragement to students who might not otherwise consider going to college.
“I am sure that the Hispanic Scholarship Fund will be very useful and will address the needs of the Hispanic students,” she said. “Many of them are left out, but it starts in high school where they should be provided with specific guidance and help.”
On UNC’s own campus, organizations composed of student and faculty members, are leading their own efforts to help the Latino community.
The Scholars’ Latino Initiative at UNC works with Latino high school students all over the state to mentor and prepare prospective students for college.
“The organization works with kids who value education but need guidance,” said Kitty Stalberg, program coordinator for the Scholars’ Latino Initiative.
Even though the program is run through the University, it encourages students to apply to all colleges, Stalberg said.
“We are trying to spread our model throughout the state,” she said.
Lee said UNC also offers courses for native Spanish speakers including Spanish Conversation for Heritage Learners and Spanish Grammar and Composition for Heritage Speakers.
“Those courses allow native speakers to work at a higher level and prepare them for the other literature and culture courses we offer in our major and minor,” she said. “We are working right now on a few more to add to this list.”
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