The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing student exposure to opportunities in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by 50 percent and the number of STEM college graduates by 1 million in the next decade.
Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House's Domestic Policy Council, says encouraging greater Hispanic participation in STEM fields is a crucial part of that goal. Hispanics accounted for 15 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2011, but only 7 percent of the STEM workforce. In addition, 17 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, but only 10 percent of STEM bachelor degrees are earned by Hispanics.
Munoz says the government sees this as "room for growth," and is trying to tap that potential with investments in higher-education programs that encourage Hispanics to pursue STEM careers.
One such program is at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which boasts one of the highest rates of Hispanic STEM graduates in the country. Provost Rafael Bras says this is because the school actively supports Hispanic students pursuing STEM through recruitment, mentorships, scholarships, and other efforts. He says the school works to boost the success of Hispanic students through constant attention. "If the opportunity is not there, we can make it," Bras says.
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