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By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hispanic students were once scarce at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia. But alumna Melody Rodriguez, a Venezuelan immigrant and one-time high school dropout was hired as a recruiter and now heads a program making Armstrong a destination for Latino students.

It features a leadership program, dance team, fraternities and sororities and a scholarship program funded by the Goizueta Foundation – open to all Hispanic students, even those undocumented.

As a result, 40% of Hispanic students graduate compared with 29% non-Hispanics and the retention rate is 72%, 2% higher than university-wide. The Foundation is providing tuition and fees for undocumented students as well for those from out-of-state.

These efforts are particularly significant since, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education by 2020, young Latino adults are projected at 25% of the US population.

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