El Paso is a bicultural, bilingual community with a 76.6% Hispanic population. Combining El Paso’s population with that of its sister city, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, our community is the largest metropolitan area on any international border in the world. Students at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are mostly female, and 50% of the total student population is made up of first-generation college students. These demographics are accompanied by low socioeconomic and educational factors: 23.6% of local families live below the poverty level, compared to 12.5% nationally; 32.9% of 25-year-olds have not graduated from high school; 19% of local residents have less than a ninth grade education with only 15.8% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Due to its location and quality of its academic programs, the UTEP ranked among top four-year colleges by enrollment and degrees to Hispanics (Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 2006), and the surrounding communities are in a unique position to contribute to the development of future Hispanic scientists, mathematicians, engineers and health professionals.
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