Jimy and Luis Hernandez’s alarm wakes them before the sun rises.
The brothers try to move quietly about their parents’ northeast Denver home so they don’t disturb their siblings.
Luis, 18, might watch the news or help his mom prepare lunch before they head to the toner cartridge factory where he works part-time to help pay for college. He’s enrolled at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Jimy, 21, usually skips the kitchen as he hustles to get ready for his full-time job paving asphalt for a construction company. He wanted to go to college, but couldn’t navigate the path there.
The brothers’ divergent paths highlight the challenges Hispanic men face in getting into college — and in getting through.
In Colorado, most Hispanic high-school graduates follow a path more like Jimy’s. Fewer than half go to college — a rate lower than that of Black men and Hispanic women.
But even when, like Luis, they get to college, the odds remained stacked against them. Just 41% of Hispanic men at Colorado’s public four-year universities make it to graduation, according to recent federal data. At community colleges, less than a third graduate.
This all adds up to enormous disparities. Among states, Colorado has one of the most highly educated populations, but only a quarter of Hispanic residents have a college credential, the lowest among all groups. That compares with 61% of all Colorado residents.