Check out this important update by Gustavo A. Mellander, published in the June 2022 issue of Hispanic Outlook, to what has actually been a great disparity in college enrollment between Latina females and Latino males. This should not be taken to suggest that enrollment for either group is anywhere near parity.
I am nevertheless happy to see my colleagues' Victor Saenz and Emmet Campos Project MALES, get mentioned as a contributing to an enrollment increase among Latino males. Project MALES co-founder, Dr. Luis Ponjuan, a member of the Texas A & M faculty, deserves a shout-out, too.
I know first hand how much work goes into their efforts such that these are hard-won successes. Every student counts with small victories becoming big ones even as more needs to get done to touch many more lives.
Thank you Victor and Emmet for your many years of dedication and hard work to bring greater equity and fairness to college access for Latino males and men of color, generally.
Looking forward to this year's Texas Male Student Leadership Summit. Congratulations for this recognition! Felicidades!
I have reported on the amazing higher education successes of Hispanic women. They continue to outperform Hispanic males.
The success of Latinas is not at the expense of Latino males. Latino males are simply not keeping pace with the accelerated pace of Latinas. Time to change.
Telemundo characterized Latinas as “The Unstoppable Women.” They are wonderful role models for young girls. That’s the good news.
The bad news, which is disheartening, is that many Hispanic males are not finishing high school and not applying to college; many who do attend – drop out. Most never return. That represents an enormous waste of individual and national talent.
Why Do Hispanic Males Drop Out?
Absent Latinos are part of a national trend. Fewer males, regardless of background, are attending college. The reasons are legion and complex.
Young Latinos are not dumb, nor do they lack ambition. They appreciate the value of education as much as any other group. Many want to go to college.
Nevertheless, they drop out for several reasons. Among them are sub-standard schools, a lack of role models, and the absence of motivating mentors. Low-income family circumstances also lead many young Latinos to seek employment as soon as possible. That’s the expectation, the unfortunate reality.
Young Latinos feel a pressing obligation to help their families. Going to college directly from high school will not immediately help their family, while getting a job will.
Some join the military, where they earn college tuition benefits. That’s a clear indication that they appreciate the value of a college education and want to attend.
It is clear that attitudes and practices have to change. These changes must begin in families and communities first. Boys, as well as girls, should be encouraged by everyone to go to college. It should be an expectation, as it is among many in America.
Colleges should prioritize recruiting Hispanic males.
Since male students feel obligated to earn money, jobs could be created on campuses for Hispanic male students. They can then help their families as they work their way through college. With careful planning, it is possible.
Successful recruitment and graduation programs
Many institutions are addressing the issue. Focused mentoring programs between Latino college students and junior high school students have produced good results. I thank Dr. Lisa Alcorta, Senior Vice President, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, for her assistance in identifying successful programs. I list some outstanding ones.
University of Texas, Austin
In 2010, Dr. Victor B. Sáenz, UT-Austin, and Dr. Luis Ponjuan, Texas A & M University, addressed the problem by launching a series of initiatives to recruit and graduate more Latino men. Their pioneering efforts, presently under the supervision of Dr. Emmet Campos, at UT-Austin, have been hugely successful.
I highlight two ongoing programs.
MALES – Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success
Project MALES, in collaboration with the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color, has established multiple longstanding partnerships with Texas school districts and higher education institutions.
This research-rich initiative leverages social capital among males to create a stronger college-going culture among male Latinos.
Recognizing that males have to be “reached” early on, a “near-peer” mentoring philosophy was fashioned to meld university students with middle school and high school male students.
That interaction promoted long-term bonds of friendship and confidence, which has encouraged youngsters to go to college. It has been very successful.
This Mentoring Program has been adopted by several colleges in Texas. Each is adapting it to their specific realities. UT -Austin “regularly provides guidance and support to other institutions that are considering similar efforts.” Dr. Sáenz graciously offered similar assistance to readers of Hispanic Outlook on Education.
The Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color
This consortium is a network of K-12 and higher education institutions that focuses on increasing post-secondary completion rates for that cohort.
The partners representing various sectors work to implement and sustain effective research-based policies and programs.
Although created specifically for Texas institutions, some programs are available to others, including their signature event, the Texas Male Student Leadership Summit. Now in its 9th year, it is hosted every August at UT-Austin. Hundreds of young men and representatives from school districts, community colleges, and universities will participate this year on August 11-12.1
Across the nation, faced with low male enrollments, Brooklyn College launched the Black and Latino Male Initiative.
Its goal is to increase, encourage, and support the inclusion and educational success of students from “groups severely underrepresented” in higher education. Brooklyn College is committed “to educating immigrants and students from diverse backgrounds.”2
University of Arizona
An initiative dubbed MASCulinity serves “young men from minority, first generation, and low-income backgrounds.” Positive changes have been generated through multiple partnerships on and off campus. The initiative includes:
• the Young Men's College Conference, which helps high school students plan their future; Coachable, a high school summer transition program for young men;
• Project SOAR: “My Brother’s Keeper”, which mentors middle school males by exploring cultural, social and environmental factors affecting them, with the aim of enhancing academic achievement and creating pathways to higher education; and
• 100% Engagement - Student Coordinators of Masculinity Initiatives, which affords opportunities to assume leadership positions on campus and with community partners.3
Hispanic males must be motivated and supported so that more attend college and graduate.
Successful projects invariably include reaching out to pre-high school students. It’s too late to wait until they are Juniors.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Successful programs already exist at several colleges. They are willing to share their experiences.
Family perceptions and expectations must change. All children, males and females, should be encouraged to go to college. The financial constraints young men feel must be resolved.
The imperative, overarching goal is for both Latinos and Latinas to go to college and to graduate. Successful pathways already exist. ¡Manos a la obra! •
1- For further Consortium information see:
To encourage others, I list pertinent websites:
2- See: http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/about/offices/studentaffairs/student-support-services/blmi.php E. BLMI@brooklyn.cuny.edu
3- Rudy McCormick, Director, Early Academic Outreach Programs. firstname.lastname@example.org.