Texas A&M Sees Growth in Minorities

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Texas A&M freshman Stephanie Rios is making family history. She's the first among her parents and three older brothers to not only graduate high school, but go to college.

"It's more pressure on myself because I'm trying to set an example for my nieces and nephews," said Rios.

Rios falls into this year's 25 percent of A&M Freshman that are first-generation college students.

Interim Director of Admissions Kenneth Poenisch said Texas A&M is reversing a seven-year trend in decreasing minority enrollment. Rios is hispanic.

Fall freshman numbers show a 26 percent increase in Hispanics, 35 percent increase in African Americans, Asian Americans have increased by 34 percent and Native Americans by 41 percent.

"We're very pleased. Frankly it's better than I've ever dreamed it would of been," said Texas A&M University President Dr. Robert Gates.

Dr. Gates said his high school visits, along with over 2,000 socioeconomic scholarships, and the top 10 percent law has all helped to increase minority numbers.

Poenisch credits the growth in minority enrollment to the increase in resources. The University now has recruiting offices in five additional cities, including Corpus Christi, Dallas, and San Antonio.

"There's a lot of kids where we're not even on their radar screen. They know little about us or they don't think that they can come here and it's our job with our admissions counselors to let them know who we are, what we're about, and what we can do for them," said Poenisch.

"I would like to see a lot more people because I come from a school that's 99 percent Hispanic so I'm used to seeing Hispanics," said Rios.

Dr. Gates believes if the university has the same success over the next four years, it will be as diverse as it was when the trend began.