According to the Pew Hispanic Center, census figures show 16.5 percent of the nation's college students in 2011 were Hispanic, up nearly 50 percent over the last five years.
Northwest Arkansas Community College has also seen an increase.
Christian Cortes is one of more than a thousand Hispanic students enrolled at NWACC.
"I was the first one in my family to graduate from high school and the first one to go to college," he says. "My parents sacrificed so much coming to the United States, and they have worked so hard their whole life and I knew that I wasn't just going to work at McDonald's or work at a chicken factory. I'm meant for more."
Cortes isn't alone. According to the report, the number of young Latino college students increased by 15 percent last year across the country.
"They're actually going for a college education to get a better job, to help their families out," Cortes says. "That makes me feel good."
NWACC's numbers mirror the trend, and in 2011Hispanic students made up 11.8 percent of the total enrollment, more than any other minority group.
"We are happy to open our doors to them," says Mary Machira, the director of the schools Global Community Center. "If we have everybody educated, everybody on the ball, it ultimately serves the entire country."
President Becky Paneitz credits the overall increase in Northwest Arkansas' Latino population, as well as the college's outreach efforts.
"Here at our college we can just see a tremendous growth," Paneitz says. "I think we're doing a better job of getting the word out, also reaching parents and family."
The school's LIFE program targets Latino students at local high schools whose parents didn't go to college. Student ambassadors, including Cortes, visit the schools and serve as mentors for their younger peers.
"My parents only went to middle school, so I didn't really know how to go to college," he says. "You don't even know who to speak to, so just knowing that there was somebody there that they can reach out to, I think that helps, knowing there's somebody that is their age that has been through that."
Cortes, now in his fifth year at NWACC says the school's efforts, and as his own, are paying off.
"Going to college has opened so many doors and allowed me to help so many people," he says.
Click here to see a KNWA story about the LIFE program that aired in June.