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Latinos in Higher Education 

Trailblazer of the Day | Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dr. Juliet Garcia, Dr. Patricia Granados

In 1986, Dr. Juliet Garcia became the first Latina president of a college or university in the United States. Since 1992, she has served as President of the University of Texas at Brownsville.

In 2001, Dr. Patricia Granados became the first female and first Latina President of Triton College in River Grove. Inspired by her parents, who came from Mexico when she was a baby, Dr. Granados began her career at Triton in 1984 as director of Nuevos Horizontes, the college’s trailblazing immigrant community center, and her commitment to students from immigrant families has continued. She graduated from Proviso East High School (where she was inducted into the “Wall of Fame”), and earned her Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD from Northern Illinois University.

A native of Puerto Rico, Dr. José Aybar has been President of Chicago’s Richard J. Daley College since 2009, where he implemented “CASH-to-ROI” ("Comprehensive Academic Support and Help to Return on Investment"), a model program that restructured remedial education and doubled student achievement. He assisted the State of Florida in placing disadvantaged students from Latin America in the higher education system and joined the City Colleges of Chicago in 2003. Dr. Aybar received his Bachelor’s from Shimer College, Master’s from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies and PhD in international studies from Claremont Graduate School.

In 2009, Dr. John Avendano - the son of Mexican immigrants - was named sixth president of Kankakee Community College. A community college graduate himself, he knows the opportunities a community college education can provide and has focused his tenure on student retention and degree completion. He began his career in higher education at his alma mater, Waubonsee Community College, before working his way up the ranks at Illinois Central College. He holds an associate degree from Waubonsee, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University, and a PhD in educational administration from Illinois State University.