Mentors show Hispanic youths college possible, San Francisco Chronicle, July 17, 2009College? The do-gooders should start with getting Hispanics to graduate from high school since around half do not. And speak English.
Ashley Vegara, a 16-year-old who says her older sister dropped out of college after getting pregnant, vows she will become the first in her family to get a bachelor's degree.
To achieve her goal, Vegara of Roswell, attended a four-day Hispanic Youth Symposium this week designed to boost dismal nationwide statistics on how many Hispanic students graduate from college.
The Hispanic College Fund is organizing six symposiums this summer on college campuses in Albuquerque, Baltimore, Dallas, Fairfax, Vir., Los Angeles and Fresno, Calif., and plans to expand the program next summer.
Only 7.2 percent of Hispanics received bachelor's degrees compared with 72 percent of white students in 2005-2006, according to the U.S. Department of Education's most recent statistics on college graduation rates.
The preceding article reminded me of a Richmond High School girl who had the desire to advance but was unclear that scholastic requirements were involved. While Iris strongly believed she was entitled to go to college, she was unable to pass California's easy 10th grade English test needed to graduate from high school: Exit exam a test of determination [San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 27, 2006].
"I need a diploma," said Iris, a chestnut-haired girl who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the Mexican state of Jalisco. "I want it. I deserve it. I've been going to school and studying. I want to have a profession."Meanwhile, Asians come to America and make good use of the educational opportunities available to young people. Forty-eight percent of Chinese living in America have graduated from college, and well paid mentors don't seem necessary given the Confucian cultural emphasis on hard work and scholarship.
Iris said all of this in Spanish. She returned to California in 2004 after the grandmother she'd been living with in Mexico died. Now she lives with her Spanish-speaking mother in an apartment near Richmond High in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
Iris' English is so iffy that pronouncing the words makes her blush. When pressed, she easily identified a shrimp but was stumped by a spoon. Asked by a reporter to write something in English, Iris crafted several simple sentences, including, "I was born in the United States," and "I think that the exit exam is innecesary."