Magazine names UNT as top choice for Hispanic students

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The University of North Texas has again been recognized by the magazine Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education as a publisher's pick. It's an annual list recognizing colleges and universities where, in the magazine's opinion, Hispanic students have shown they can thrive and persist.

Jose Lopez-Isa, publisher of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, points out that in the last decade, national Hispanic enrollment at four-year universities has increased 73 percent. However, the percentage of Hispanic high school graduates ages 18-24 enrolling in college increased from 35 to 37 percent.

UNT has several programs to actively encourage Hispanic students to enroll in UNT right after high school graduation and retain and graduate them. Enrolling and retaining Hispanic students is a major part of the "Closing the Gaps" initiative of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The initiative has a goal of enrolling 630,000 new higher education students across Texas by 2015.

As part of community outreach efforts across the state of Texas, UNT's Office of Admissions has taken part in more than 600 recruitment programs and six national Hispanic college fairs in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas.

Randall Nunn, UNT associate director of admissions, says his office also has participated in "Las Llaves del Exito," or "The Keys to Success," for families. The program is sponsored by the Dallas Independent School District, Dallas County Community College District and area universities. In addition, he says, the Office of Admissions has conducted numerous workshops for both students and parents at local high schools with large Hispanic enrollments to help with questions on how to apply for admission and financial aid.

The UNT Center for Outreach and Community Involvement and other campus offices host Academic Kickoff each fall semester on a Saturday to bring high school students to campus and provide them with information about attending UNT.

"The program targets 300 Hispanic students from area schools and hosts them for a full day program at UNT, including a football game," says center director Patrick Vasquez.

Vasquez says the center is also an active partner in Denton's Partnership for Hispanic Success, an ongoing initiative to provide college enrollment, health and civic engagement information to parents and families of Hispanic students in Denton Independent School District.

UNT students are also encouraging high school students to consider enrolling in a college or university by staffing Go Centers at six area high schools. At the centers, the high school students talk to the university students about their experiences at UNT.

The Go Center initiative, Vasquez says, "has as its focus the goal of creating a college-going culture."

"The majority of students we engage are Hispanic," he says.

In addition, UNT hosted several summer bridge programs last year for recent high school graduates. The programs helped the students meet statewide college readiness standards and equipped them to compete successfully in higher education.

To assist students who are already enrolled at UNT, the Center for Outreach and Community Involvement administers UNT's Multicultural Scholastic Award program, which provides scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 per year. The scholarships are available to full-time freshman, transfer, continuing and graduate UNT students who meet certain academic requirements and agree to actively participate in a variety of multicultural activities.

Several Hispanic students who have enrolled at UNT have been recognized for their academic achievements. Since 2004, 18 UNT students or recent graduates have received awards of up to $3,000 per academic year from the national Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Recent graduates are included because they applied for the scholarships when they were still UNT students. The fund, founded in 1975, is considered the premier national scholarship agency for sponsors of scholarships for Hispanic students.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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