It’s even higher in Texas, where the rate is 84.2 percent, and in California with a 77 percent for the 2013-2014 school year. There’s also a spike among English learners where the rate stands at 62.6 percent compared to 57 percent in 2010-2011.
No doubt, la educación hace la diferencia!
Read more about Latinos graduating from NBC News here.
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We’ve all done it. You meet someone new, take one good look at them and ask (almost rhetorically): “So, where are you from?” Often we expect faces to match exotic countries around the world, but frequently the response, complemented with a puzzled expression, is something like: “Oh, umm Michigan…”
But Latinos come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, We can be white and blonde gueros, we can be black, and every color in between. We are gay, Muslim, Asian, Jewish, Indigenous, and so much more.
Here are 32 Latino celebrities that you probably didn’t know are, in fact, Latino.
1. Nicole Richie
You likely know Nicole Richie as Lionel Richie’s daughter and from “The Simple Life” with bestie Paris Hilton. Nicole was actually adopted by Lionel and her biological family has Mexican ancestry.
I mean people really didn’t know…
Like it was a serious shock apparently to many across social media.
2. Aubrey Plaza
The Parks and Recreation star is boricua pa’que lo sepas, but in several interviews, she said that people never think she’s Puerto Rican. “I’m very fair-skinned, but I feel really connected to that side of my family.”
3. Alexis Bedel
Yep, it’s true! The actress, best known for her role as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, was born to Argentinian parents (her mom grew up in Mexico) and raised in a Spanish-speaking household. She’s told Latina that she’s often assumed to be Irish.
4. Bruno Mars
Born Peter Hernandez to Puerto Rican and Filipino parents, Mars changed his name to avoid being stereotyped in the music industry, he told GQ.com. “People would say, ‘Your last name’s Hernandez, maybe you should do Latin music … Enrique Iglesias is so hot right now!'”
5. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made a name for herself as the (very tan) of New Jersey’s Italian-Americans. But she was actually born in Chile and adopted by an Italian-American family when she was just six months old.
6. Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz’s father is of Cuban descent, born and raised in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor City. The bubbly blonde actress told Vogue magazine she spent part of her summers as a child in Tampa with her over-protective grandmother, “playing cards, eating steak and rice and beans and drinking RC Cola and watching soap operas.”
7. Jessica Alba
Actress Jessica Alba’s father is Mexican-American, and she says she takes pride in being Latina, despite rumors to the contrary.
8. Sara Paxton
WIth roles on “Good Girls” and “Last House on the Left”, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Sara says people are often surprised to learn she’s half Mexican.
“People never believe me,”she told The Huffington Post. “I think it’s because they have this stereotype of what a Latina’s supposed to look like, and I don’t fit that typical look.”
9. Hulk Hogan
Considered by some as the greatest professional wrestler ever, Hulk Hogan, born in Georgia. But did you know that he has Panamanian roots?
10. Kid Cudi
Kid Cudi’s real name is Scott Ramon Seguro. His father is a proud Mexican-American.
11. Frankie Muniz
Everyone knew of Frankie Muniz while growing up thanks to “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Agent Cody Banks.”
While Frankie is his stage name, his real name is Francisco, probably thanks to his Puerto Rican father.
12. Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch’s apellido is Tejada. The soap opera star changed her name while trying to make it in Hollywood, but her father was born in La Paz, Bolivia.
13. Uma Thurman
You probably know Uma Thurman from her role in “Pulp Fiction” but did you know she has Mexican roots? Her mother, a fashion model named Nena von Schlebrügge, was born in Mexico City before moving to New York to be a model.
14. Vanna White
You know her as the legendary hostess of Wheel of Fortune, but White – whose very last name hints that she’s Caucasian— is actually part-Latina!
You see, “White” is not Vanna’s real apellido—it’s the name she took from her stepfather Herbert Stackley WhiteJr., a former real estate agent in North Myrtle Beach. Not much is known about Vanna’s real father whose name is Miguel Angel Rosich, except that he was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and abandoned the family when she was a child.
15. Mark Ballas
Professional ballroom dancer Mark Ballas (Dancing With the Stars) is half-Greek, and half-Mexican. Ballas’ paternal grandmother was named Maria Luisa Marulanda Ballas — and while she is not Latina herself — Ballas’ mother, Shirley Ballas is an award-winning dancer who won the 1995 International Latin American Dance Championship, earning the nickname “The Queen of Latin.”
16. James Roday
The last name trips people up, James says, but the Psych star, who’s half Mexican, changed it from Rodriguez to Roday when he launched his career for two reasons: There was already another James Rodriguez registered in the Screen Actors Guild, and an agent at the network where he landed his first job worried that they would look like they were skirting around issues of diversity by casting a white Latino.
Fergie was everywhere in the early 2000s as part of the musical group The Black Eyed Peas. But, now you know that she has Mexican ancestry in her family line.
As you may have heard, there’s an “In The Heights” movie in the works. The production, produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Jon M. Chu, will start shooting later this summer. While they have their main cast in place, they just had a casting call for extras. They specifically said they were looking for Latinos and would be in Washington Heights for the open call. Since they were in the area for the casting call, which is where the movie will be shot as well, the movie’s VIP crew had some time to check in on another important group.
Lin-Manuel Miranda stopped by during a school production of “In The Heights” at George Washington High School in New York and surprised the cast.
“We saw In The Heights in the Heights for the first time, with kids from all over the neighborhood,” Miranda tweeted. “It’s cool I only cried 10 times. These kids were so good. Our future is so bright.”
Jon M. Chu, director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” tweeted the moment when Miranda stepped onstage.
Some of the students were clearly surprised to see Miranda there, although not everyone, and we think we know why. If you watch the clip, Chu shoots the entire audience as well as the cast on stage. There were a lot of special guests in the audience, one of them being Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Lin’s dad. So, we’re not sure how much of this surprise was kept under wraps.
Other special guests included Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the screenplay for the new “In The Heights” movie.
We’re wondering if some of the students will be cast in the new movie. Why not? They need extras and clearly, these kids know a thing or two about the story. Might as well give a chance.
We also loved seeing all the selfies of Miranda with all of the students.
“Love working with you guys. #intheheights #intheheightsmusical,” Rubi Camila Perez Guzman shared on Instagram.
This kind of happiness is the best.
“Words cannot describe how thankful I am to be part of the show In The Heights,” Rebecca said on her social media page. “I got the opportunity to be part of a group of greats actors that are my family now. We worked for almost 4 months on this project and it was all worth it at the end to give this surprise to Lin Manuel Miranda. May 31 will be a night that I’ll never forget.”
What a spectacular night for Miranda, the cast of “In the Heights,” and the students.
“Had such an amazing time working with these amazing talented people,” Alexia Stewart posted on Instagram. “Thank you guys soooo much for accepting me into your family at such short notice. I love you all and I can’t wait till next year when I see you guys again.”