News Column

STC Works to Promote Higher Education Among Hispanic Men

July 19, 2013

Given the national trend expected to one day mean Hispanics are a majority population, researchers have pointed to current data about higher education attainment among Latino men as a serious concern.

This Saturday, South Texas College is hosting a free leadership summit, the first in a series of efforts this fall aimed at raising the number of Hispanic men who go to college and obtain a degree. The Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success -- or MALES -- project, created in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, will host the event at STC's Cooper Center at the Pecan Campus in McAllen from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Among STC's 95 percent Hispanic student population, data from the past three years has shown gaps between men and women among retention and graduation rates, said Armando Ponce, STC student activities coordinator.

"On a larger scale, we're trying to develop more leaders," he said of Saturday's event.

The summit is open to anyone who might be interested in learning about skills and tools for education and career success from successful Hispanic men, Ponce said. Though geared toward men, high school and college-age men and women as well as families are welcome.

Hispanics continue to lag behind other groups in obtaining post-secondary degrees.

"Simply stated, if we do not act strategically and collaboratively, Latino males may continue to vanish from the American higher education landscape," a 2011 Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) brief states.

Some 78,898 Latinas across the nation received a bachelor's degree in 2009, but that number decreased by almost 30,000 among Latino men to 50,628, according to the brief.

Ponce said a range of topics will be covered on Saturday including professional dress, finding the appropriate career, financial literacy and how manage the different roles a man may play, such as father, son, husband, provider and student.

At least 75 people have registered for Saturday and there's room for 110 in all, he said.

The IHEP report cites a number of challenges for Hispanic men that include lower family income and parental education levels, poor academic preparation and a lack of access to information about the college-going process.

While a strong family bound found among Hispanics can function as a supportive network for educational success, it might also mean Latino males are more likely to join the workforce immediately after high school instead of pursuing higher education, according to the report.

Ponce said part of what families are taught during an orientation STC holds separately for them is "deferred gratification." This means, for example, families learn sacrificing their son or husband's part-time work might hurt short-term, but be better in the long run, he said.

Ponce acknowledged at STC they've seen machismo, or a cultural belief that men shouldn't have to ask for help, sometimes gets in the way.

"I would tell them that the times have changed and now the educated professional man is the new tough guy," Ponce said he'd tell men who hold that belief. "Times have changed and without an education you're not going to get where you want to go. The key to success is there."

Go to, call (956) 872-2515 or email for more information.

Source: (c)2013 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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