By Rachel Stengel
Rider’s enrollment numbers are following the national trend with an increase in the number of Hispanic students enrolling in college, according to statistics from the Office of Enrollment Management.
College enrollment among Hispanic students was up 24 percent from 2009 to 2010, a report from the Pew Hispanic Center said. Rider has had a steady increase of Hispanic students enrolled over the past three years. Hispanic students constituted 7 percent of new student enrollment for fall 2008, 9 percent for both fall 2009 and fall 2010 and 11 percent for fall 2011, according to the Office of Enrollment Management.
Senior Anajessica Gaitan said that she is proud to be a part of the national trend.
“Speaking from my own personal experience, coming from an area where the population is predominantly either Hispanic or African American, college was always an option,” Gaitan said. “My mother has worked hard to ensure that myself and my sister attended college and graduated.”
The 24 percent increase only represents the amount of Hispanic students enrolled in college, not the number who graduate. The National Center for Education Statistics stated that only 13 percent of Hispanics aged 25 to 29 had completed a bachelor’s degree in 2010. In comparison to other minority groups, 53 percent of non-Hispanic Asian young adults and 19 percent of non-Hispanic African American young adults have completed a bachelor’s degree.
Gaitan said that she is pleased to be a part of Rider’s graduating class and to receive her diploma.
“Being a senior at Rider University gives my mother and myself a sense of pride because of the fact that I am the first person in my family to go to college,” Gaitan said. “Once I receive my degree, I know that I overcame that statistic of students who either never went to college or dropped out.”
The report also said that Hispanics were the largest minority group enrolled in college in America because of the 24 percent increase. There were approximately 1.8 million 18- to 24-year-old Hispanic students enrolled in college in 2010, which represents 15 percent of the total enrollment. The report attributed the increase in Hispanic enrollment partially to demographics. Data from the 2010 Census said that Hispanics were America’s largest minority group that year. They constituted 16 percent of the U.S. population, according to the report. In the fall 2010 semester at Rider, Hispanic students made up 7 percent of the overall enrollment and 9 percent in fall 2011, according to the Office of Enrollment Management. These figures correspond to the national trend.
On Rider’s campus, 25 percent of the student population for fall 2010 and fall 2011 was minority students, data from the Office of Enrollment Management said. There are various organizations that cater to minority students. One such organization, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) strives to create a sense of community among Hispanic and Latin American students, Ashley Pichardo, president of LASO and Dana Lopes, advisor of LASO said.
“We hope to foster understanding by sharing the culture and experience of people of Latin American descent at Rider University and beyond,” they said.
Gaitan is the public relations chair of LASO and the organization and academic chair for Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. at Rider. She said that it is an honor to be a part of multicultural organizations that support Hispanic students.
“The programs that LASO hosts bring the Hispanic community closer together and fulfill the needs of our identity and culture,” Gaitan said. “My sorority is my family away from home. As a sisterhood, we do programs that promote the image of sisterhood and with the various programs we host on campus, we promote a strong, educated woman. Both these organizations allow me to enhance my leadership skills and keep that connection of my culture and roots.”