There were approximately 350,000 additional young Hispanics in college in 2010, compared to the year before — a 24 percent increase — reported in a study of census data by the Pew Hispanic Center.
This is the largest such increase on record, and is noteworthy because it’s substantially higher than the 7 percent increase in the overall population of Hispanics that age. Overall, college-age Hispanics represented 1.8 million of the 12.2 million young adults in college.
This marks the first time there are more Hispanic 18-to-24-year-olds than blacks on college campuses across the country. The number of white students that age has declined, according to AP.
José Hernandez, a student at Cleveland State Community College, is among the increasing Hispanic population to pursue higher education in America.
Not only is Hernandez the first in his family to go to college, he is the first to graduate high school. As such, the 18-year-old sees it as a steppingstone to greater success, particularly in the area of advanced technology.
“I’m majoring in computer information technology, specifically application and industrial technology,” he said. “I’m also taking computer networking, network security, hardware and operating systems, and one class that teaches me the practical application of hardware and operating systems.”
The first year whiz kid said it’s just as important to get his certification, including Network Plus and Security Plus certification, as it is to make good grades.
“Not only will I be getting my associates degree, I’m getting my certification. Certifications are sought after in the IT field because certifications prove you know how to do the work, not just the homework. It proves you know how to apply it in the field. That’s what I’m going after,” he explained.
“In this day and age there are so many threats to network security. It’s becoming easier and easier to hack into networks. There’s a high demand for people who know how to keep these networks secure. I’m learning what hackers use to get in, but also how to prevent them from getting in and how to keep them out.”
According to Hernandez, who lives with his mother, father and two younger sisters, technology has always been a source of fascination for the quiet and observant youth.
“Ever since I was little we’ve always had a computer around the house and I’ve enjoyed playing around with it — finding out what I can do and what I could change,” he said. “I’ve always loved trying to get inside the mechanics of computers.”
To graduate, Hernandez said he will have to build a computer, something he is looking forward to. Currently Hernandez has been recruited by Emerus, a software programing company in Decatur, that approached him with an internship.
“They do a lot of programming, development of applications. They also do Web developing on the Internet,” Hernandez said. “They approached me with an internship because they heard I was interested in this field. They’ll be teaching me how to computer program. Right now I’m doing quality assurance.”
Hernandez was recently recruited by a new website, The Academy of Mutual Interest in Motion Pictures, LLC., as marketing director.
“It’s a new company and all I can say right now is it plans to be a strong voice in motion pictures in the future.”
Regarding the growing population of Hispanics in college, Hernandez, whose family lineage is from Mexico, said, “Some people think low of Hispanics and don’t think they can make anything of their lives. But we’re just like anyone else. We can use our minds and be successful.”
The industrious teenager has been enrolled in a Theocratic Ministry School of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Meigs County for years and links his comprehensive skills and study habits to a careful spiritual routine 52 weeks out of the year.
“The Theocratic Ministry School has helped me to focus and keep my mind open. I realize there’s always something for me to learn. It helps keep my mind active and to always keep trying to improve myself. It’s helping me be the best I can be. I thoroughly enjoy the ministry school,” he said.
While secular education is important to the studious young adult, Hernandez said the emphasis Jesus Christ put on one’s spiritual education, by taking in knowledge of God and Christ at John 17:3, was even more important to him.
In October 2010, 46 percent of young Hispanics attending college enrolled in two-year schools and 54 percent enrolled in four-year schools.