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Hispanic Scholarship Fund creates new initiative to increase college degrees among Latinos

LatinaLista — When President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize last year, he announced that ten non-profits would share in the $1.4 million cash prize. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) was one of those non-profits.


The HSF released the names of their “Obama Scholars” at the organization’s first Education Summit. According to a HSF press release, the scholars were chosen “based on essays they wrote describing their interest in teaching in a science-related field.”

The Obama Scholars are:

Matthew Castro, a junior studying biology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Tex., who is an Iraq War veteran;

Janine Flores, a biology student at St. John’s University in New York City, who believes “education is the key to advancement as I’ve lived it myself”; and

Richard Ossa, a junior at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, N.J., who says, “I want to be a successful chemical engineer and I want to leave my footprint as a good teacher along the way.”

In fact, it’s this kind of “passing the education” that is behind a new initiative by the HSF dubbed “Generation 1st Degree.” The idea is that HSF helps one person in a family get their college degree and in turn that person helps a family member do the same thing.

HSF’s vision is for the U.S. Latino degree attainment rate to increase from 19 percent to 60 percent by 2025. HSF estimates that will result in a significant increase in Latino lifetime earnings — from the current $24 trillion to $47 trillion (in current dollars) by 2025 if the goal is met.

“What we are witnessing is the circle of life — ‘Gen 1st Degree’ is about the dreams we need to spark in everyone’s imaginations, the Obama Scholars represent the dream to come, and the alumni represent the dream fulfilled,” says Raul Romero, chairman, HSF. “The end result will be an America made stronger economically and socially through higher education, which is something we all care about.”

No word yet how or when the Generation 1st Degree will be implemented.

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