California State University, Dominguez Hills sophomore Samantha Hernandez is featured in a United States Department of Education video intended to promote college attendance among children of Latino families.
The video, “La universidad: un sueño alcanzable (College: An Attainable Dream),” is part of the Department of Education’s effort to achieve President Barack Obama’s goal of increasing college graduation rates in the United States by 20 percent by 2020. Statistics show that currently less than 40 percent of adult Americans have a two- or four-year degree, a percentage that lags behind other nations. Toward that end, the Department of Education video targets a segment of the country’s population with one the lowest college-going rate.
Latinos are the fast-growing minority in the United States, but have the lowest college attendance rate. Many factors are thought to contribute to this disparity, chief among them being that there isn’t a strong college-going culture in the Latino community. By profiling a successful Latino student such as CSU Dominguez Hills’ Samantha Hernandez, the video aims to show Latino families that college is attainable, affordable and should become part of their child’s education plan. The video is in Spanish to reach the many families who still speak Spanish in the home. It is captioned in English and Spanish.
Hernandez, a graduate of Bishop Conaty – Our Lady of Loretto High School in Los Angeles, is in her second year at CSU Dominguez Hills. She is currently majoring in sociology. Outside of the classroom, she works as a mentor to freshmen and a student-assistant in the Office of the University President. In the community, she is involved in her church, teaching Sunday school and volunteering with local nonprofits. She lives in Los Angeles with her mother and three sisters. One of her sisters and her mother are also currently working toward their college degrees.
At CSU Dominguez Hills, Latinos represent 41 percent of the student population. Many are first in their families to go to college. Among the many programs the university has to help students navigate the unfamiliar college atmosphere to improve retention and ensure they graduate successfully are a number of programs specifically aimed at assisting Latino and first-generation college students.