During the past few months, the AHA released several reports detailing a nationwide decline in History majors across campuses. In this month’s Perspectives on History, Yovanna Pineda problematizes that claim, and illuminates in her own two-year case study how one academic constituency – Latinxs – is increasing in history major enrollments. An associate professor of Latin American history at the University of Central Florida, Pineda sampled and interviewed first-generation Latinx students and their experiences within history departments as well as those applying to history graduate programs.
She finds that while many first generation Latinx college students share a passion for history, several top research and elite private institutions fail to successfully recruit such students. Pineda reports, for example, that some graduate programs even questioned a student’s English competency and requested that they take the TOEFL to ensure language ability. Her analysis confirms the need for an institutional apparatus that will continue to effectively recruit and retain first generation students of color in the history profession.