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She was the ideal college applicant. But this first-generation student needed more help.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas – “Eat Beef, Keep Slim,” the feedlot sign shouts in this rural stretch of southwest Kansas. Ashlee Villarreal’s parents – her Tejano father, her Mexican mother – came here when she was young, part of an influx of Latino families who helped Garden City grow from almost 23,000 people in 1990 to more than 28,000 just a decade later.

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