Temple University's efforts to attract more Latino students
The institution has seen an 80% increase in Latino students over the past year.
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Latino students comprise a greater portion of Temple’s student body now than they did 10 years ago. The university experienced notable growth in the Latino community for several years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Temple University’s fact book, in Fall 2021, there were almost 3,000 Latino students enrolled at the university. A number that stands out is a 30% increase in undergraduate Latina students between Fall 2016 and 2021.
“For the incoming Class of 2026, we expect to enroll the largest community of Latino first-year students we have welcomed to Temple since we were founded in 1884,” said Shawn Abbott, Vice Provost for Admissions, Financial Aid & Enrollment Management at Temple University.
One of the factors responsible for this increase is the work of the Diversity Initiatives & Community Relations team, which is dedicated to attracting new Latinos and Hispanic students to the university. Largely focused on students in the United States, they create a variety of on and off-campus programs aiming at recruiting new students. Their work ranges from visiting high schools and community based organizations in Philadelphia, to specialized tours and information sessions for students visiting campus.
According to Antonio Romero, the Associate Director for Diversity Initiatives and Community Relations, a huge part of his role is to visit schools in the Philadelphia area and make connections on an individual and broad level with prospective students on a regular basis. Although there are over a 100 schools in the city, Romero says he tries to prioritize schools that are in highly-concentrated Latinx neighborhoods because of Temple’s mission to serving particularly the North Philadelphia community.
As a Puerto Rican himself, Romero believes when he enters a room to talk to prospective students who are also Latino, they feel represented. As an active member of his community, a speaker and volunteer, he understands the importance of making true connections and serving as a representative of successful Latinos.
“I want to remind all students that college is a gateway to a world of possibilities,” he wrote in his Temple profile. “Prioritizing academics will allow students the space they need to explore their interests.”
Temple University Initiatives
The College Camp initiative is an on-campus program that will be hosted in October for Latinos in greater Philadelphia — in collaboration with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a national organization that improves college access for Latino students. Over 500 students and families are expected to be welcomed to campus, where they will receive guidance on how to prepare for the college admission and financial aid process.
Besides being able to schedule individual one-on-one meetings with Romero and his team, students benefit from presentations tailored to their needs. While an Inclusive Communities Series focused on Latinx students is held virtually at the beginning of the semester with Latinx students, staff and professors panelists; another called the "Belonging Presentation" focuses on admitted students, and encompasses all underrepresented groups.
“To me, it is vital that sometimes all ethnicities are in the same room, hearing that everyone belongs [in college],” Romero said.
Of huge importance to the university’s mission, there is the Cecil B. Moore Scholars Program, available to students in eight different zip codes around Temple — some of them have the highest concentration of Latinos in the city, Romero said. Apart from holding info sessions at high schools about the scholarship, the program also holds special campus tours for students from those zip codes, accompanied by students with similar backgrounds.
Abbott believes the great number of already existing Latino students at Temple is what makes the university an attractive option for others to want to join. The sizable Latino community at Temple along with its multiple clubs and organizations on campus help strengthen this group. According to Romero, there are about 14 student organizations that are Latinx related at Temple — ranging from language and culture to business. From student associations to dance troops and fraternities, Temple’s location in Philadelphia is also a component of Temple’s diversity, Abbott said.
Temple’s long list of ways of attracting more Latinos doesn’t end at the local level. Some broader efforts are being made. The university has been partnering with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund — in which Romero serves as a panelist for different events, putting Temple at the spotlight. He represents the university at the Pennsylvania Latino Convention, where Temple participates also as a sponsor, and recently registered the institution to the National Hispanic College Fairs. Temple will be participating in the fairs particularly in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Southern California.
The Diversity Initiatives and Community Relations is making efforts to partner with more community-based organizations, particularly the ones serving predominantly Latinx populations. Although Romero has been working at Temple for less than a year, the amount of progress that has been done towards the inclusion of Latinos in the institution is an understatement. Temple, hopefully will not stop empowering this community.