This post is an adaptation of slides from a keynote presentation for the 27th Annual Conference of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities given by Dr. Jimmy Reyes, Dean of Nursing, and Juanita Limas, Assistant Professor in the Math/Science Department.

Slide01Session Objectives

  • Demographics of US changing
  • Latinos and STEM fields
  • How are we addressing this at the community college level?
  • Strategies for addressing in non-diverse environment

Important facts to consider

Latino STEM students represent a population not targeted

Why think about these students?


Slide05Slide06Changing demographics in the US

What is important to remember is that the demographic population in the US is a huge factor to consider.

  • Latinos are projected to be the minority-majority around 2043, which is sooner than originally projected.
  • Why are Latinos projected to grow so fast?
  • Age plays a very large role: younger people providing the fastest growth to fertility and immigration.
  • As a result, younger people will be filtering into the educational system and into community colleges more than ever as the population explodes into the future.

Demographic changes yield shift in political power

  • We need to consider Latino population growth in the US
  • One of the greatest needs for challenges in the future lies in student involvement in STEM careers.
  • Looking at the demographics of Latinos, since they are projected to become the minority-majority in three decades, is important to be able to train future healthcare providers, scientists, and a strong labor force.

Slide10STEM careers

  • STEM careers are one of the fastest growing fields of employment in the US
  • Historically have been a challenge to recruit students to these fields

Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County offers some insights

  1. High expectations – understand that STEM curriculum is challenging
  2. Build community among students – help others out, tutoring, etc.
  3. It takes researchers to produce researchers – need to mentor future Latino students
  4. Faculty need to observe and identify at-risk students – take extra initiative to care

What does the path look like for Latino students going to colleges?

Maria Hinojosa on NPR (Latino USA) speaks to Richard Fry, Pew Research Hispanic Center, about the initial path Latinos face after high school.  Click here to listen to the broadcast.  He also talks about the Latino success rate at finishing college as well.  Statistics show these students do poorly, and even worse for STEM fields.




Slide18Iowa is Changing

Iowa represents a challenge as Latinos not well represented among the population…yet.  Already in 2013, Latinos have a higher concentration of preschoolers among the population than any other race or ethnic group.  This will continue to rise as these children proceed through the educational system and go to college and universities.

Slide20Why are minorities in Iowa falling behind?

  • Institutional racism
  • Negative stereotypes of minorities in Iowa
  • Limited support from the state
  • Language barriers
  • Immigrants’ lack of knowledge of US culture

Diversity among faculty and administration

As these students progress in their education, the need for faculty to look like the population becomes increasingly important.  Also important is to have faculty who feel welcome in these environments.  Recruitment is important but more emphasis is needed on retention of quality Latino faculty to serve these students.

Slide23Age Demographics of Kirkwood Students

  • 81% of Latino students are in the 18-29 age group
  • Another 12.3% are in the 30-39 age group
  • Comparable to non-Latino students in similar age groups
  • Many have full-time jobs AND go to school full-time
  • Parents, etc.Slide25

Difficulties faced in non-diverse environment

  • 1 minority dean (Dr. Reyes)
  • Administrators in cabinet (n=10) never had a Latino cabinet member
  • Around 5% of students are minorities, but it is increasing
  • Latino faculty represent less than 1% of full-time faculty
  • Lack of support system for faculty to collaborate

Ways to implement change in an institution that is not diverse

  • Starting minority faculty association (KMFA) with support from president, vice-president, and associate vice-president
  • Presenting a workshop during Collaborative Learning Days
  • New faculty orientation must require cultural diversity and sensitivity workshop
  • Have minority faculty present at orientation
  • Ask minority faculty to serve on search committees for future positions to open up possibilities for increased diversity

Why does this matter to Kirkwood?

  • Earlier predictions stated that face of US population is changing.  We’re already seeing it in preschoolers in Iowa.
  • STEM careers are EXTREMELY important to train the new labor force to be competitive in the future economy
  • Need to have faculty and administration reflect the face of the new population
  • Iowa has been a leader in education for many years

Part of this presentation was inspired from The Culturally Responsive Classroom Pilot Project, specifically its Making the Case page at

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