Working Toward Increased Latino Graduation Rates

By Emily McGarry, Communications Department Intern, NCLR

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Maria Thurber and her parents, Monica and James.

There is nothing quite like a college graduation ceremony, with young people in robes and mortarboards filled with hope for the future and proud relatives taking photos to document this milestone. For many families, this graduation season was their first. One such family is that of Maria Thurber, who just earned her Bachelor of Arts degree and is the first in her family to go to college.

Maria studied Spanish and theology and minored in art at Catholic University of America. Her dream is to one day become a museum curator. She credits her parents’ support and constant encouragement to work hard, as she always wanted to make them proud.

Furthermore, Maria wanted to show others—especially children whose family members might not have a college education—that earning a degree is possible. She knows that the cost of college and other factors can seem overwhelming and may discourage students from pursuing a degree. Maria believes strongly, however, that her degree will pay off immensely.

“I think earning a college degree is difficult, and I would consider it a great personal triumph to graduate,” said Maria. “As a Latina woman, I feel very proud of my roots and wish to show others the importance of college and how it can be done!”

Maria1Maria is one of many Latinos forging new paths to college. A 2012-2013 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that the Hispanic high school graduation rate was 75.2 percent, compared to the national average of 81.4 percent. The GradNation campaign aims to have a 90 percent national high school graduation rate by 2020. Although this may seem hard to achieve, we are not far from reaching this goal.

NCLR is encouraged that there will be many more young Latinos like Maria who will help the U.S. get to that point. Our work on increasing the number of Latino high school graduates will also ensure that more young people attend college. We hope to hear many inspiring stories like Maria’s in the future and see the college graduation gap narrow.

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