The Hispanic/Latinx population at Emory University has always been a minority, sitting at 9.2% in 2021, according to Assistant Vice Provost of Institutional Research and Decision Support Justin Shepherd. This year, there are 1,471 Hispanic/Latinx students enrolled in the University, with 665 of those students enrolled in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences. 

Emory trails behind with Latino and Hispanic student enrollment on the national scale — Hispanic students earned 15% bachelor degrees awarded in 2020, according to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, following a decade of rapid growth in the Hispanic student population. Although college enrollment among all races decreased by 5% from 2009 to 2019, Hispanic student enrollment jumped by 48% during this same period, the National Center for Education Statistics reported

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This trend recently took a turn. Hispanic enrollment fell by 7% between fall 2019 and fall 2021, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. This places more strain on the Hispanic/Latino population, who have less representation in campus communities. They already have the lowest degree of education for any racial group in the United States.

College enrollment across all racial groups decreased during the pandemic, but the Hispanic community was especially impacted. The Chronicle attributes this phenomenon to many Hispanic students’ lower-income and first-generation status, prompting them to put their education on pause to handle family responsibilities. 

Latino families were also among the most likely to struggle financially during the pandemic, affecting Latino students’ ability to attend college. The Chronicle reports that Hispanic students are less likely to take out loans to pay for their education or view college as a worthwhile investment to get a job, further contributing to recent trends. 

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Hispanic/Latinx people are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people. For some students, dealing with the loss of a family member or fearing bringing the virus back to their families prevented them from attending school.

However, Emory is currently experiencing an increase in Hispanic/Latinx students. From 2017 to 2021, the Hispanic/Latinx population at Emory increased from 7.5% to 9.2%, with the population standing at 7.9% in 2018, 8.3% in 2019 and 8.8% in 2020. 

The growing Hispanic/Latinx student population helped Kasandra Schroeder (25C) find a community at Emory after being in primarily white spaces in high school and not celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Now, she has gotten a chance to honor her culture.

“Hispanic Heritage Month has been a way to connect with the Hispanic and Latinx community on campus and to connect back to my heritage that I have held for so long,” Schroeder said.

The University is also joining the celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month. There are multiple events planned throughout the month, such as a discussion called  “Consciousness is Power,” on Sept. 28, which will recount Emory’s Latino history. There is also a pop-up exhibit on the second floor of Woodruff Library this month, titled “Consciousness Is Power: A Record of Emory Latinx History” for Emory students to learn more about the month.

Yesnely Flores (22PH, 28G) said she hopes Latino groups can honor their culture this month and have their own space at the University.  

“It’s really important for Latinx students to have this month and be celebrated, especially at an institution like Emory,” Flores said.

The importance of awareness, advocacy and understanding is most important, Flores said, noting that she wants other Emory students to take action to be better allies. 

“We are here and present and we have always been here,” Flores said. “Making sure that’s clear and … just being a continuous ally with small things and thinking about what the impact is of being a Latinx student in the Southeast. Small things like that can make huge changes in people’s lives.”

Schroeder added that it is important for members of the Emory community who are not Latino to be educated on Latino culture.

“It is important to learn how being Latinx impacts impacts people’s identities and be open to hear any positive experiences that come from that,” Schroeder said. “People who are in large organizations on campus should continue to support our community.”

Inclusion toward the Latino community should continue beyond Hispanic Heritage Month, Schroeder added.

“It’s not just a month,” Schroeder said.