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Exito: A Path to Latino Student Success

President Wim Wiewel has launched a new initiative to recruit, support and graduate more Latino students, who make up the most underrepresented group at Portland State relative to their growing population in Oregon.

The president commissioned a campus task force last year that recommended steps to bring more Latino students to campus and provide more support to help them graduate. The recommendations implemented this year include more financial support, a new Casa Latina support center, a target to double the number of Latino faculty and staff and new recruitment and advising programs.

Four Portland State Latino students share their experiences in their own words and discuss the initiative, called "¡Éxito!" or success.

New Recruiting Efforts

Leti Ayala
Senior

Hometown: Sheridan, Oregon
Major: Social Science

"When I was a sophomore in high school, someone asked me to name a university in Oregon. I had no idea. I had a 3.7 GPA, but in my school, my adviser never said anything to me about college. Attending Latino and Native American youth conferences exposed me to people who went to college who looked like me and came from similar backgrounds as I did. I had role models who taught me to have pride in my culture and to get an education. That's when I started envisioning college. I thought if they can do it so could I."

More Financial Support

Mario Quintana
Sophomore

Hometown: Hood River, Oregon
Major: International Studies

"Harvesting is hard labor. You can only do it for so long before you get too old or you're just not good enough. I'd rather get an education. I had advanced courses throughout high school. A couple of my teachers saw the potential in me and encouraged me to apply to college. I got scholarships that cover most of my expenses, but I had to take out a loan to cover the rest. I told my parents that I was coming to PSU at the last minute. They were a bit surprised, but in the end they supported me all the way."

More Advising and Support

Hector David Castro Bazan
Senior

Hometown: Lima, Peru
Double Major: Supply & Logistics and Management & Leadership

"My freshman year was really hard. At one point, I was close to dropping out and going back to Peru. I didn't know what I was doing. I had nobody to talk to if I had a problem. The bills were piling up. I knew how to speak English, but it was still very hard to read college textbooks and write papers. But I realized I have a good opportunity here if I buckle down. The first time I got an A in a class, I thought, 'OK, I'm not going back.' Now I'm obsessed with good grades."

Career Assistance

Monica Sarmiento
Junior

Hometown: Hillsboro, Oregon
Major: Biology

"My family always instilled in me the idea that an education gets you far, and I want to go far. I'm an aspiring dentist, and I'd like to go to OHSU. I've volunteered there a couple of times, and I got to help out in the student clinic where they work on patients' teeth. I translated for a little girl who only spoke Spanish. I know a couple of dental students who used to go to PSU. Having a network of people telling you, 'You can do it,' and sharing their stories with you is really encouraging."

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