Program offers tips to get into college

April 19, 2009 11:24:14 AM PDT
Hundreds of Hispanic students spent their Saturday morning in school. They, along with their parents, were learning what it takes to get into college. The only thing these kids are missing is information.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

It was "Steps for success Saturday" at Stephen F. Austin High School. Three-hundred Latino students and their parents were invited to learn how to prepare for higher learning. Among them was 15-year-old Blanca Garcia.

"My parents didn't have the opportunity to go to school," she said.

Blanca is a freshman, and she is hoping some advance planning will allow her to achieve a dream.

"I really want to go to college. I want to be the first person in my family to go," said Blanca.

She has a steady B average, excels in both math and science and would like to attend the University of Texas or the University of Houston.

"I want to go to college because I want to be a successful person, but right now I'm not sure what I want to be, I mean I haven't made up my mind,"said Blanca.

Latinos make up 40 percent of Houston's population, but statewide only 3.9 percent are enrolled in college. Experts say it is not because those students don't qualify. It is because they lack critical information.

Event sponsors Exxon mobile and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund hope to attract some future engineers from the eight HISD schools participating in their workshop. Last year, Exxon gave $89 million to education, and the scholarship fund gave out 4,100 scholarships totaling $26.7 million.

"We want them to understand there is money available. There is financial aid and people are genuinely interested in helping them get through school, start school and actually finish," said Dr. Ruth Gonzales, Exxon Mobil geophysicist.

For Blanca, graduating from college isn't just something she wants for herself or her parents.

"I'm setting an example for my brothers, my siblings, too," said Blanca.

"How many kids are in your family," we asked.

"Oh, we're six,' she replied.

She is hoping that her success means all six will one day have a degree.

"I think it's gonna be hard, I'll have to work hard," she said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos are the fastest growing minority in the country, however only 25 percent are enrolled in college. Of course, the mission of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund is to bring that percentage up. For more information, you can log onto their web site at www.hsf.net

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