MCL Graduate Professional Assistant Rafael Hoyos Justiniano presents research on Latinx Demographics, Advocacy and Outreach

MCL Graduate Professional Assistant Rafael Hoyos Justiniano presents research on Latinx Demographics,  Advocacy and Outreach

In April, Rafael Hoyos Justiniano, Modern and Classical Languages Graduate Professional Assistant in Latinx Advocacy and Outreach and an MA student in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (Psychology), and Carla Sofía García, the Graduate Professional Assistant to CHSS Associate Dean Marguerite Rippy and an MA student in Global Affairs, presented their research on Latinx student demographics and inequities at George Mason at Mason's annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference. Their study employed both quantitative and qualitative methods, and not only identified inequities but also offered multiple suggestions to reduce educational disparities.

Abstract: According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Hispanic/Latino is the second-largest ethnic or racial group in the U.S. with non-Hispanic White being the largest. Despite the prevalence and continued growth of the Hispanic/Latino population in the U.S., large educational disparities and inequities exist between these two student populations. These disparities are especially evident in higher education. Our research takes an interdisciplinary approach by linking Latino and critical race studies with the aim of assessing and providing solutions to the existing educational disparities that affect the George Mason University at large and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Hispanic/Latino undergraduate student population. To that aim, we chose a mixed methods approach in which we pulled from qualitative and quantitative data provided by a direct student survey along with institution-provided data reporting on enrollment, credit hours, attrition, retention rates, and more. Qualitatively, we found that COVID-19 revealed long standing inequities in access to resources within, as well as outside the university that are significant factors in enrollment, retention, etc. Overall, the data points to slow Latino growth over the last five years with particular vulnerabilities across programs, especially STEM. The student survey input and data analysis conducted highlighted the need for better Latino student outreach, advocacy, and further holistic academic and financial support mechanisms. The solutions proposed offer actionable goals and data-driven institutional practices with the intention of better representing the historically underserved and underrepresented Hispanic American undergraduate student population at George Mason University.