Georgann Yara

State’s universities see jump in Hispanic enrollment

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The number of Hispanic students seeking higher education is steadily increasing, with the most noticeable jumps projected to happen in this year’s freshmen class.

Arizona State University has enrolled more than 9,000 freshmen this fall. Of that total, more than 1,300 of them are Hispanic, which represents an increase of about 16 percent from last year, according to Mistalene Calleroz, assistant vice president for University Student Initiatives. ASU has seen a steady increase in its Hispanic student population overall, which has grown 94 percent in the last 10 years.

“We’re very excited about that. One of the goals of ASU is to reflect Arizona. We’re getting closer and closer to that goal,” she says.

At the University of Arizona, this year’s freshmen represent the school’s most diverse first-year class, mostly due to what is estimated to be a 20 percent increase in Hispanic students over last year.

Both universities have also increased their number of National Hispanic Scholars, outstanding high school students who are highly sought-after by schools nationwide. ASU has 87, compared to last year’s 72, while UA’s 50 is double last year’s total.

Recruitment of Hispanic students plays a key role in this trend. Dean of the University of Arizona’s Honors College Patricia MacCorquodale says the trend reflects both in-state and out-of-state Hispanics, many of who are directly contacted by the university. In many cases, the seed is planted early with representatives visiting elementary, middle and high schools.

“There is an emphasis on working with students and their families. We get them to think about scholarships and financial aid,” she adds.

SPREADING THE WORD

Calleroz says getting the word out about the different personalities of ASU’s campuses and its more than 250 degree programs is a major part of attracting students. Letting them know finances do not have to be an obstacle is also vital. Currently, ASU partners with school districts in Phoenix, Tolleson, Glendale, Mesa, and Tempe Union.

“We’re recruiting more students who haven’t historically thought about ASU. There are intentional efforts to recruit students from underserved districts. We make a connection, build the pipeline. It’s been phenomenal,” she says.

Calleroz says that the large number of Hispanic student organizations attract and retain students as well. Graduates have the potential to be role models to the next generation of students, and can be the university’s best selling points.

Calleroz recalls an ASU student who visited her elementary school in Tolleson to talk about her college experiences and get them thinking about education after high school. Afterward, the children wanted her to sign their backpacks.

“That kind of story really demonstrates the kind of impact that we can have if we go back to our community and show that college is no longer a luxury, but something you need and can be yours,” Calleroz says.

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