Austin Community College enrollment is growing by an estimated 4,000 students each year, and minorities continue to account for a large part of that influx.
The numbers of Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians at the school are all on the rise. Hispanics represent the largest minority group, accounting for one quarter of ACC’s entire student body.
Two years ago, Ealoy Gonzalez enrolled in ACC to further his studies of computer science.
“I can’t afford to go to UT right off the bat, unfortunately. I’m sure if I had known about scholarships and grants in high school, I would’ve,” he said. “I kind of saw myself falling under the same statistics as everybody–working kind of dead-end jobs, living paycheck to paycheck and I wanted to have money.”
Like Gonzalez, more people are seeing their potential and choosing to enroll in a two-year degree first.
In the past four years, ACC’s enrollment has grown from 31,000 to 45,000 students, with minorities accounting for 60 percent of the increase.
“My culture, my background, old school parents I want to say, really don’t know where they can go. Don’t know how far they can exceed,” Gonzalez said.
ACC staffers have been active in the community in an effort to work with parents, high schools and church groups to make sure everyone is aware of the resources available.
Once students get to ACC, the college keeps tabs on them to track their achievements.
“Students didn’t know. They’re just unaware of how to enroll in higher ed,” ACC professor Richard Armenta said. “They’ve done their part in coming to us. We want to do our part in seeing that they accomplish their goals.”
ACC’s ultimate goal is to have the halls filled with the right mix of students of different ethnicities–a mix that mirrors the area it serves.
Students like Ealoy say with the student body more equally represented, it is nice just to focus on school.”
“There’s so many organizations around here where I can just talk about current events; talk about how things are going,” he said.
Gonzalez, a full-time dad, plans to eventually earn his bachelor’s degree from a four-year university.