Hispanics Behind in Academic Achievement

The Hispanic population is growing faster than any other racial group in the United States. However, according to a recent study Hispanics are lagging behind when it comes to academic achievement.

Colleges are more diverse, but the racial gap still persists. Two professors at MSU say it's not something that can be addressed at the college level, they say it all starts well before freshman year.

"I think back to what really motivated me to continue through school and it was a teacher and coach that I had in junior high school. He was the first Hispanic teacher coach I had ever seen in my experience and he reached out, established a relationship and mentored me," said Dr. David Barbosa, Associate Professor, MSU.

Dr. David Barbosa started college in 1968. He says resources and information were scarce then, but it was an educator he could identify with that made all the difference.

"I think its incumbent on our teachers regardless of whether they're Anglo or Hispanic or African American to reach out and establish relationships with the youngsters,"said Dr. Barbosa.

Dr. Mary Garza is the first woman in her family to graduate with a PhD. She says it doesn't matter who offers guidance, as long as students are being encouraged.

"Parents are so so important to say to their children mira mijito o mijita you're going go to college you're going go to college and we're going help you get there," said Dr. Mary Garza, Associate Professor, MSU & Region 9.

But Dr Barbosa says sometimes its hard for parents to encourage their children.

"To a large extent the Hispanic community we have to establish relationships which demonstrates that they can trust us that the school system is an organization that has their children's best interest in mind and I don't think to a large extent that's happen so far," said Dr. Barbosa.

Also it's not always up to the adults in a teen's life to help encourage that next step. Dr. Garza says once a student has decided 'yes I will go to college' it's up to them to seek out resources to help get them there.

Currently the enrollment of Hispanic students at MSU is at 8.9% and even though that number may seem relatively low...Dr. Barbosa says Hispanic enrollment at MSU has increased.

Dr. Garza says there are three golden words for teens to remember when seeking college information from school counselors- scholarships, grants and fellowships.

Samantha Jordán, Newschannel Six.