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Fourteen percent of all fatalities at the workplace are to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Olalde

Despite recording progress in college graduation rates over the past two decades, Latinos -- the largest minority group in the United States -- continue to face wage gaps and underrepresentation in the workforce.

This seems to be a challenge that requires more Latinos in positions of power to bring the change.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the Pew Research Center, there has been a 291% growth in the number of Hispanic women earning advanced degrees from 2000 to 2021. Meanwhile, among Hispanic men, the growth percentage was 199%, as per AP News.

Census data shows that 21% of Hispanics aged 18 to 34 were enrolled in college in 2021, compared to 23% of white non-Hispanics. The data also showed that 7% of Latinos aged 25 or older had a graduate degree in 2021, marking an increase from 4% in 2000, but still much less than the 14% of people in that age group overall.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, explained that there have been improvements due to efforts made by the policy leaders to address disparities in achievements, adding that despite challenges to diversity, equity and inclusion programs, the Hispanic graduation rates will keep increasing.

"I think the country recognizes the importance of making sure we invest in all of our students, including our Latinos," Cardona said. "We have just as much potential as everyone else to be successful."

"I am a Latino secretary of education and I know the value of diversity, not only with Latinos, but with other cultures as well. So, there is a greater likelihood that because I've experienced it, I am more likely to see the value in people who come with diverse backgrounds."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Latinos are underrepresented in higher-paying positions and they are mostly employed in sectors such as production, transportation, farming, construction and maintenance occupations.

A 23-year-old Angelina Chavez, who earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Riverside, explained how she overcame her imposter syndrome and embraced the efforts of her mothers -- who joined her on stage during the Latinx ceremony.

"They were both wearing one of my sashes," Chavez said. "They are living their experience of pursuing higher education through me, and that is something that I value so much."

Chavez's mothers moved to the United States from Mexico. They encouraged Chavez to not only get good grades, but also participate in extracurricular activities. However, Chavez noted that her journey in college was not easy as her parents were not well-versed with SAT scores, advanced placement classes and how to apply to U.S. colleges.

A daughter of Mexican immigrants, Alexia Iman Burquez, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations in 2019, used to work on Capitol Hill. However, with the help of the degree, she moved to a higher-paying position with Google in Los Angeles.

"Being a first gen, I knew that although I wanted to make a difference in my community, I didn't want to sacrifice myself and perpetuate the same cycles of poverty that I came from," she said.

However, pay gaps still exist. According to Census data, Latinas holding a bachelor's degree or higher are paid on average $26 per hour, which is less compared to other college-educated employees. Also, compared to Latina women, educated white men earn $14 more.

In general, Latinos earn less compared to all other races. Labor Bureau data shows that the weekly median wage for a full-time Latino worker was $777, while Asians earned $1,328, whites earned $1,018 and African Americans got $801.

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