KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Karoll Marroni is a first-generation college student who attends the University of Central Florida as a political science major.

“We’ve gotten a lot of great opportunities being here,” she said. 

What You Need To Know

  • 2020 Census data shows a surge in Hispanic, Asian and multiracial Floridians

  • Florida is gaining one U.S. representative seat because of population growth

  • Latino advocates say more Hispanics need to take part in politics

Marroni’s mom, Noemi Perez, is very proud of her daughter’s accomplishments. Every now and then, the two sort through old photographs to look at memories from their homeland.

As Perez points at a picture, she said, “This is Karoll when she was little.”  The family left Panama when Marroni was only 4 years old.

Many more families continue to migrate to Florida. The 2020 Census shows the number of people who identify as Hispanic, Asian or multiracial surged. While the white population remains the largest race or ethnic group in the country, the number of people identifying as white alone, declined for the first time on record.

“Well it's great that we’re seeing our numbers rise, but it won't do anything if we don't see more people participate in our government,” Marroni said.  

Despite the spike, Poder LatinX advocate Nancy Batista believes Hispanics may have been significantly undercounted.

“There were instances in which the administration had mentioned about adding whether or not a person was a citizen or not of the country … and so that created intimidation among our community,” she said.  

Batista said that because of the growing population, Florida is going from 27 U.S. representatives to 28.

“Whether we need more schools, whether we need more hospitals, we definitely need to make sure our community is accounted for because all of that funding depends on how many people we have,” she said.  

Marroni, who is about to graduate from UCF, won't rule out one day perhaps running for office herself, not only to see more representation of the Latino community, but also to make her mom proud.

“And that hopefully means that turns into more advocacy for Latinos, especially since we have one of the biggest Latino populations in the U.S.,” Marroni said.