As part of the more than 50 million Latinos living in the U.S. today, I am proud to be a member of this growing segment of our country.

This momentous growth comes as a result of numerous factors and will generate many exciting professional and political opportunities for the Latino community. In order to increase our presence and contributions to this nation’s success, we need to address the challenges of engaging Latino students in attaining their degrees from higher education.

Growing up as a Latina, education was wired into my DNA as a key to achieving my future goals. My parents believed in the transformational power of education. Now more than ever, college and post-secondary completion needs to become inherent to arm future generations of leaders with the proper tools to enter an increasingly competitive job market. Even though today’s economy has shown to be uncertain, education is a constant, an instrument that has demonstrated to outlast the most tumultuous of economic times.

My university and graduate studies have allowed me to acquire skill sets that have opened doors to opportunities that otherwise would have not been attainable. These opportunities have led to increased responsibilities during my professional career that includes corporate, nonprofit, and entrepreneurial fields.

Today, students must not be deterred by the current state of the country’s economy, but rather become empowered and informed about existing and new resources designed to help them reach academic achievement. During these economic times, innovation, risk-taking and bicultural experiences increase the opportunities to participate in a growing global economy. In addition, experiences in community-serving nonprofits provide training grounds for developing leadership skills that assist in reaching academic and professional achievement.

We live in a country that welcomes ethnicities from all over the world, and for those of us fortunate to study here, it is our right to pursue a higher education to become the leaders we set out to be. It is also our duty to motivate
those that come after us so that we continue to contribute to the success of our nation.