The Main Stream

May 9, 2013 2:23 AM by Sean Mooney

Hispanic U of A students celebrated for high degree of success

The Hispanic population is the fastest growing minority in America, but it also has the lowest college graduation rate of any other group.

That is not the case in Arizona which ranks among the top three states with the highest graduation rates.

On Wednesday the U of A Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs Office held the 24th Annual Graduation Convocation at Centennial Hall.

Karen Rivas is about to be awarded a degree in chemical engineering. She says it has been a road filled with obstacles, one made harder by a community that doesn't necessarily support higher education, "It is very difficult to get the Hispanic community involved, she said, "I know when I went to high school, I don't feel like it was an expectation for me to come to college, where I know that my other non Hispanic friends, they were always expected to come."

Jose Quiroz' parents never graduated from high school. He is about to earn a degree in bio chemistry. Despite unwavering support he says it was hard for his family to understand what it took to get where he is today, "My mom probably can't pronounce my major, I never really had anyone to look for in my family for guidance or advice".

Hispanic students are now receiving plenty of guidance from the U of A. Those efforts have helped the state achieve a 44% graduation rate among Hispanic students, among the top in the nation. And the university continues to improve its numbers.

According to U of A Student Affairs Assistant Vice President, Jeff Orgera, the freshman retention rate at the U of A is currently 82% and hispanics are closing the gap,"The rate for Hispanic students is 78% so we're just a few percentage points below the overall for the campus", Orgera said, "so we are really pleased with the progress that we are making.

One of the true success stories is Jose Quiroz, who has been offered a full ride to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he will be enrolled in it's Scientists Training program.

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