Latinos awarded more degrees

By Teresa Acosta April 23, 2024

The number of Latino males attaining baccalaureate degrees has increased 113% between 2009 and 2019, the most compared to other racial and ethnic groups, but they still trail Latino females. 

According to research data compiled by ¡Excelencia in Education!, an organization that  analyzes the educational status of Latinos, there was a 52% increase in baccalaureate degrees earned by Latino females from 2015 to 2020.

Latino males and females complete high school at similar rates, 89% and 92% respectively. However, at the college level, Latino males represented 40% of the undergraduates compared to Latina females at 60%. 

Cal Poly Pomona’s student population is 49% Hispanic/Latino students. In 2021, 56% of graduating Hispanic/Latino students were male and 67% were female.  

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System reported that of the top five degrees awarded at CPP, females out earn males in general psychology, general hospitality management and general biological sciences, and males out earn in general business and administration management and computer science.

James Jaime, an electronic system engineering technology student, is a first-generation college student who is graduating next month. He said getting help or advice from family was not an option because no one in his family attended college or had any experience in the engineering field. 

“I didn’t know or understand the process or the benefits of going to college,” said Jaime. “I never really took it into consideration until I figured out what I wanted to do or what I was good at.” 

Jaime started taking small steps toward discovering his interests by taking classes at a community college and working on cars. He enjoyed the research and data aspects of how engine parts pieced together. He did much of his own research to learn about engineering and what kind of careers were in this field. 

The ideal career for Jaime would be as an electrical engineer on the Subaru World Rally Team. Working on the “brain” of the race car, the electronics, sensors and microcontroller unit is the goal. 

The research also found 51% of Latino students were the first in their family to attend college, compared to the next largest group, African Americans at 38%. 

For plant science student Brenda Gomez, college is an opportunity for her to lead the way for the rest of her family.  

“It’s hard to be the first,” Gomez said. “I am learning as I go. There were many times I felt like I didn’t belong. But I found community with fellow first-gen and through clubs on campus that helped me stay positive and motivated through the challenges of the first-gen experience.” 

For the 2019-2020 academic year, CPP earned the No. 19 spot for the most baccalaureate degrees awarded to Latinos in the country. Of the 5,744 degrees awarded, 2,454 were to Hispanic/Latinos.

The university is a Hispanic serving institute. CPP has a Seal of Excelencia, which is a national certification of institutions that strive to go beyond enrollment to intentionally serve Latinos. 

For Karla Espinoza, an agricultural science student, college was a necessary step for her future. She is also a first-generation student who is currently working at a vet clinic for hands-on experience and intends to continue working with animals after she graduates. 

Espinoza credits some of her success here on campus to the connections she has made both with other students and professionally. 

“My parents have always encouraged me to attend and apply for college to have a ‘better life,’ as they always say,” said Espinoza. “But another reason is because, based on what I want to do in the future, it’s important for me to have a degree and experience.”

Feature Image by Lauren Wong

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