Latinos have the lowest levels of education of any racial or ethnic group in California
San Leandro High School senior Veronica Santana strode across the stage in a scarlet cap and gown to receive her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony earlier this month on the hillside campus of Cal State East Bay.
Come September, Veronica, 17, will join her older sister Erika at the Hayward campus overlooking San Francisco Bay and become part of the first generation of college students in her family. It's a point of pride for the girls' parents, a retired factory worker and a hair stylist, both Mexican immigrants who studied no further than middle school.
Attending college sets Veronica and her 20-year-old sister apart from most of the state's Latinos, who are expected to become a majority of California's population in another generation, according to state estimates, but who currently have the lowest levels of education of any racial or ethnic group in California.
Veronica is among just 1 in 7 California Latinos who graduated from high school after four years and completed the courses required to enroll in a four-year college, according to the California Department of Education. If she completes college, she will be among only 13 percent of U.S.-born Latinos in California with a bachelor's degree, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found.
The statistics for African Americans are similar to those of Latino students, but the societal impact is less broad. Blacks make up 8 percent of the state's public school students, while Latinos represent 48 percent.
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