The University of Southern California was named one of the country’s most successful universities at graduating Latino students. According to an analysis completed by the Education Trust and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USC has increased its Latino graduation rate by 19 points to a rate comparable to that of Caucasian students.USC is one of eight schools that the foundation uses as a model for graduating Latino students and is the only private institution listed in the report.“Across the country, 51 percent of Hispanic students who start college complete a bachelor’s degree in six years, compared to 59 percent of white students,” the foundation said in a press release.Senior art history major Alan Prieto said the university’s commitment to integrating minority students bolsters its reputation amongst the Latino community.“I think USC puts a lot of emphasis on promoting diversity within the residence hall so students can learn from each other and I think they do it in a way that’s genuine and really efficient to help students be introduced to a learning environment in a metropolitan area,” he said.In addition, Prieto said the school’s efforts to cater to students of specific races fosters a friendly and competitive environment on the campus.“USC offers a lot of programs that are culturally and ethnically specific and I think that helps promote academics,” he said. “I think USC does a better job at being able to provide more opportunities to a wider ethnic pool and looking at applications and looking at the capabilities of each student to fill a quota for a certain demographic.”Many low-income students such as freshman broadcast journalism major Mirian Fuentes come to USC because it provides myriad financial options. The university says more than two-thirds of its students receive financial aid, and Fuentes is on a full-tuition Trustee Scholarship.The Neighborhood Academic Initiative helps prepare low-income students in grades 6 through 12 for college-level work and 41 percent of the program’s graduates thus far have attended USC on full academic scholarships.“I think being a Latina here at USC is really empowering,” Fuentes said. “Especially in my culture, there’s not a lot of expectation to send people to main universities like USC. I feel like as a Latina I have a reputation to represent and make it known to other Latinos in high school that its possible to come here, but its not your race that gets you in as much as your determination.Fuentes said organizations like Destino — a spiritual resource for Latino students — and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund have also help her find her place as a new student.“Being part of Destino has made me really embrace being a Latina,” she said. “I had thought it was something about me I was going to have to change.”Gene Bickers, vice provost for undergraduate programs, expressed his hopes for Latino graduates in a press release.“We want all our students to graduate with academic programs that prepare them to meet their personal aspirations,” he said. “Our success with Hispanic students can be attributed to a holistic approach that brings together faculty, academic advisors and student life professionals to promote engagement and success.”This post has been updated to reflect that Gene Bickers is a male.
University praised for Latino graduation rates