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MIT rated as one of best US schools for Hispanics

Hispanic magazine and have ranked MIT as one of the top colleges and universities in the nation for Hispanic students this year. MIT was the only major national university in the North or East to be recognized by each organization.

Hispanic magazine, in its March issue, rated MIT #4 for Hispanic students., the Spanish/English Internet service affiliated with the Univision Television Network, selected MIT in February as one of the first nine of 29 colleges to be featured on its web site, "Universities with a Hispanic flair."

The organizations are two of the strongest voices in Hispanic media in the United States. Univision is the principal TV network for the nation's 33 million Hispanics, and Hispanic Magazine has a circulation of 254,000.

"It's exciting that MIT has been recognized," said Yvonne Romero, associate director of admissions. In 1989, she was recruited by her predecessor, Eddie Grado, to come to MIT from Riverside, CA. She has been involved in recruiting minority students to MIT for the past 12 years.

"MIT was ahead of its competition in the early 1980s in recruiting Hispanic students," she said. Students, alumni and admissions officers are involved in MIT's recruiting of Hispanics and other minorities.

More than 12 percent of MIT's undergraduate population is Hispanic. Of the 517 students, 471 (11 percent) are Hispanic Americans and 46 (1.1 percent) are from Latin America, Central America and Spain. Seven percent (409) of the graduate students are Hispanic -- 123 Hispanic Americans and 286 from Hispanic nations.

The Univision presentation includes interviews with two MIT students -- PhD candidate Enrique Vivoni and freshman Miguel Calles -- and an alumnus, Dr. Nestor Ortiz (ScD 1972), who was a manager at the Sandia National Laboratories for many years.

"MIT's commitment to diversity is about as strong as its commitment to technology," Mr. Vivoni told Univision. "This is a place that attracts students who would like to shape the future through their knowledge of science and engineering." Now in his seventh year at MIT, he has completed the SB and SM in environmental engineering and the coursework for his PhD.

Mr. Calles, in the Univision interview, said, "I am the son of two Mexican immigrants who did not exceed a sixth-grade education. I grew up in Lennox, CA, a high-crime neighborhood and primarily Hispanic." He graduate sixth in his class of 667 students in Hawthorne High School in Los Angeles and spent the summer at MIT in the Project Interphase program.

"For eight weeks I took the basic curriculum: calculus, physics, chemistry, writing and a study skills course. I was very stressed during this time because I did not know how to study (I never had to do it before). Interphase helped me make a smooth transition into the school year," Mr. Calles said.


Hispanic magazine said of MIT, "As the number three college in America's Best Colleges, MIT's academic excellence is indisputable. MIT is still the only Ivy League [caliber] school to meet our minimum Hispanic student population of 10 percent. The school holds particular appeal to Hispanics because of its engineering program and, although the cost is steep, most students will receive the financial aid necessary to complete their education. Active Hispanic student organizations include the MIT Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, LUChA [La Uni������n Chicana por Aztl������n], the Mexican Student Association at MIT and the Association of Puerto Rican Students at MIT."

Ranked ahead of MIT at numbers one to three respectively were Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley and Rice University in Houston. Both MIT and Stanford are members of the informal Ivy League Plus group, which also includes the University of Chicago as well as the eight Ivy League schools.

Rounding out the Hispanic magazine top 10 were the University of California at Los Angeles, Florida International University, San Francisco State University, the University of New Mexico, Rutgers University at Newark and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Placing 11th through 25th were colleges in Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Colorado, and two universities in Illinois: DePaul and Northeastern Illinois.

Antonio Copete, a senior in physics from Colombia, commented to Tech Talk about the Hispanic magazine account. He said the student associations it mentioned "are certainly not the only active Hispanic associations at MIT. I know well at least a few others, such as the Colombian Association of MIT (of which I am the president), the Central American Club, Club Argentina and Club Latino. I think Hispanics other than Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans many times don't feel included in the statistics you mention, partly because their associations are usually overlooked."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 25, 2001.

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