Fresno State senior on a mission to Motivate

FRESNO, Calif.

"I feel that every single person has the capacity to accomplish anything... It's just that you have to make sacrifices and you have to do whatever it takes to get that done," said Fresno State Senior Lucerito Salgado.

Salgado knows all about sacrifice. She's done without most of her life. The last of five children born to immigrant farm workers she is the first in her family to go to college.

She recalls her high school counselors telling her she was too dumb to take honors courses, but her parents always encouraged her to do more.

"Since I was little they've said, 'You have to go to school, you have to get educated, you have to get a degree, you have to make a change. You have to help the community.'"

Not all Latino students have such motivation to persevere. While the majority of the Fresno State student population is Hispanic -- more than 36 percent -- university statistics show they also make up the largest drop out rate. 15 percent of all full time freshman Latino students drop out -- 50 percent of part time students.

"They're first generation. First in their families. So they don't know how to navigate the college system. They're not familiar with all the deadlines and all the communication that needs to happen on campus, so they turn to their peers or friends and not necessarily the staff on campus," said CLASE Program Director Adrian Ramirez.

Ramirez is trying to make Fresno State faculty more aware of the vulnerabilities among minority students. He heads up a program at the university called 'CLASE' (Commitment to Latina/o Academic Success and Excellence).

Lucerto Salgado, meantime, is helping to organize a conference this weekend for her fellow students. It's called 'Motivate.' All day Saturday students will listen to speakers and stories designed to motivate students and eventually decrease the drop out rate among Hispanic college students in the Valley.

Graciela Moreno with ABC30 Action News will be one of the speakers at Saturday's conference. She has her own story of perseverance to tell.

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