Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Excelencia in Education Highlights Programs Promoting Latino College Completion

Over the past seven years, the advocacy group Excelencia in Education has compiled an impressive list of programs that are working to improve the college graduation rates of Latinos.

Every year, the group recognizes nominees in the areas of associate, bachelor and graduate level programs that have a track record of increasing Latino college enrollment, improving academic outcomes and increasing graduation rates.

For the 2012 Examples of Excelencia report, 159 programs were nominated. Of those nominees, three received the top awards and 16 others were national finalists.

Here’s a little bit of information about the top three programs recognized this year:

- Valencia College’s Direct Connect . The University of Central Florida and four Florida community colleges partnered in 2006 to promote smoother transfers between colleges and universities. The colleges and universities share use of certain classrooms and labs, as well as advisors. Since the program’s inception, 3,695 Latino students have transfered from community colleges to the university.

- California State University, Bakersfield, School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering. The university has focused on increasing the number of Latinos studying in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, in addition to working with nearby Bakersfield College to provide streamlined transfers between the two entities. About 40 percent of the program’s 1,039 students are Latino. About half of the community college transfer students studying in STEM programs are Latino, an increase from 22 percent in 2006. The university has also seen an increase in the number of Hispanic students majoring in STEM fields.

- University of Texas, El Paso, Master of Business Administration. The predominantly Latino university has focused on strengthening the MBA program through various efforts. They include diversifying faculty and expanding recruitment efforts. More than 59 percent of the 320 students served by the program annually are Hispanic and there were 104 Hispanic graduates from the program in 2010.

Excelencia will begin accepting nominations for next year’s list in January 2013. A searchable database is available online that lists past honorees, so you can search for programs in your area that may be worthy of media coverage.