Brainpower is the new currency of success in the 21st century global economy. And that currency is even more precious—and sadly elusive—for far too many first-generation low-income college students. No one understands this better than Diana Natalicio. As president of the University of Texas at El Paso for nearly three decades, she has done a masterful job of shaping her school to the surrounding community, not the other way around. Over 80% of UTEP’s more than 23,000 students are Mexican American, and an additional 5% come from nearby Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Most of her students work, and many of them have families. Yet UTEP has become a major research institution during her tenure, growing research dollars from $6 million to more than $90 million annually, because Natalicio was ahead of her time, seeing the future of America in the faces of her students.
Castro is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development