College’s Hispanic population up 7 percent

By Celena Cordova: PNT Staff Writer

The number of Hispanic students enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University has increased 7 percent in the past 10 years, according to school officials, which means more than a quarter of the school’s 4,000 students are Hispanic.

ENMU President Steven G. Gamble said several factors contribute to the increased number of Hispanics attending the university, including:

• The increasing number of Hispanic students graduating from area high schools.

• Adding programs to address the identified needs of Hispanic students.

• Recruiting Hispanic student leaders to participate in the President’s Ambassadors program that is heavily involved in recruiting freshmen students.

• The Hispanic Affairs Office works with students to increase student participation in campus activities.

The U.S. Department of Education designated ENMU as a Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2001 because of the significant number of Hispanics enrolled at the university.

Executive Director of Planning and Analysis Patrice Caldwell said financial incentives, family support systems and student involvement play a role in Hispanic student retention.

“I believe the university is committed to helping Hispanic students succeed in ways that honor their families, and that help them achieve their hopes and their dreams for success,” she said.

Caldwell said the university has a number of financial incentives specifically for Hispanics students. Many scholarships, such as the Friends of Hispanic Students Scholarship and Monica Martinez Memorial Scholarship, are offered every spring semester.

Director of Hispanic Affairs Beatriz Villa said she chose ENMU because it was close to her hometown of Belen. Villa also said she built a campus family through her involvement with Hispanic Affairs.

“I mean I don’t have to go back every weekend to feel that sense of home, here I have that,” Villa said.

Caldwell said students who are involved on campus are more likely to become engaged in their education.

“Hispanic students have always been leaders on campus,” Caldwell said. “They have started organizations and lobbied for campus improvements and changes.”