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UT Arlington among top universities for Hispanics

UTA student Luis Robles

Luis Robles says the Center for Mexican American Studies helps him thrive inside the classroom and out.

Luis Robles came to UT Arlington looking for organizations he could identify with, ones that would help him be productive.

According to a study released in October by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, he found the right place.

The AASCU Hispanic Student Success Study examined why some state-supported four-year colleges and universities graduate Hispanic students at much higher rates than others. UT Arlington was one of 11 universities selected to participate based on its high graduation rates.

Robles credits the University's Center for Mexican American Studies with providing Hispanic students a place to work on projects or homework or simply share ideas.

"I met many new people who are now great friends," he said. "CMAS gave me the opportunity to get involved in community service, and I've enjoyed that."

The AASCU report noted that Hispanic students at UT Arlington do not need to have their own groups to feel like part of the campus.

"The University of Texas at Arlington has an institutional culture that affirms diversity, promotes student success and enables Latino/Hispanic students to maintain a sense of identity with their ethnic heritage while achieving a sense of belonging with the larger campus community," the report says.

It commends CMAS, noting that such organizations foster campus leaders.

"I'm tremendously proud of the praise and the recognition that the report confers upon our University in general," CMAS Director Susan Gonzalez Baker said. "I'm also pleased that the report identifies concrete practices-things that we do right-that can be implemented at other universities."

Casey Gonzales, director of Multicultural Outreach at UT Arlington, reminds that Hispanic success on campus has a long history.

"I think much of what we do goes back to the Association of Mexican American Students, which started in 1970 and has been the umbrella organization of most of the Hispanic organizations that we now have on campus," he said. "Hispanic students have found their voice, their culture and pride at UT Arlington, and this helps the students excel and ultimately graduate."

Like Robles. The mechanical engineering major plans to graduate this spring. He has been offered a full-time position at Meza Engineering, a consulting firm in Dallas, where he's working as an intern.

— Jim Patterson

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