Presented by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Applications for the 2004 Star Awards were submitted by 51 programs, projects, or activities conducted by Texas higher education institutions, and organizations, groups, or individuals focused on education. Nine finalists were identified in an initial review, with four finalists selected to receive awards:
Amarillo College - Community Education Centers
Established 17 years ago, Community Link (formerly the STAR Outreach Program) reaches out to nontraditional students (low to moderate income, minority, first-generation, new resident/immigrant students and adults over 25) where they live to encourage them to enroll in college. In spring 2002, Community Link began its partnership with the Amarillo College Foundation to "reach the unreached." The partners adopted initiatives to (1) expand outreach by hiring a full-time Community Link outreach specialist and (2) increase resources and scholarships for nontraditional students. Today, 13 partners, including the Amarillo Area Foundation (committing $225,000 for scholarships, staff, and building expansion) and the City of Amarillo (committing $60,000 for facility expansion) have provided $120,000 for scholarships, $244,500 for facility expansion, and $80,000 for staff support over the past three years.
Contact: Maury Roman, Director of Outreach Services, (806) 381-8968
St. Edward's University - College Assistance Migrant Program
The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), the oldest program of its kind in the nation, has provided college access and support to more than 2,200 migrant students since it began as a federally funded program in 1972. Children of migrant farm workers often cannot afford college and are likely to be academically unprepared for college as they move from school to school across the country. To make college accessible, CAMP provides financial aid for tuition, fees, books, and living expenses, and provides a modest stipend to offset the students' lost wages. To help students adjust to and excel in college, CAMP provides educational and social support services to build the competencies needed to complete a four-year university education. As a result, 96 percent of CAMP students returned for their sophomore year at St. Edward's, and the graduation rate for CAMP students exceeds the graduation rate for Hispanics at 29 peer private higher education institutions.
Contact: Esther Yacono, Director, College Assistance Migrant Program, (512) 448-8626
Tarleton State University - Terrell School for Clinical Laboratory Science
The Terrell School for Clinical Laboratory Science has become one of the nation's premier laboratory medicine programs. In the past five years, the school has expanded its capacity in critical high-need allied health fields at the baccalaureate level, developed two new programs at the associate's level, graduated the largest number of these allied health professionals in the state of Texas, raised millions of dollars from the community to support these programs, and maintained the highest academic standards. Collaboration among the community, the medical profession, four-year universities, and two-year colleges has been a key element of this success. Over the past 10 years, 100 percent of graduates have passed the American Society of Clinical Pathologists Board of Registry exam, with scores exceeding national averages by 8 to 28 percent over the past three years. In addition, more than 95 percent of graduates are employed or continue their education within two months of graduation.
Contact: Sally S. Lewis, Department Head, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, (817) 926-1101 Top
Texas A&M University - Century Scholars Program
The Century Scholars Program is a successful student recruitment and retention initiative that helps Texas A&M University enroll and graduate students from 41 Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas public schools that are underrepresented at the university, while at the same time building diversity on its campus. The partnership between the university and the public schools provides financial aid, sponsored campus visits, and scholarship opportunities to encourage students to pursue higher education. The cumulative grade point average and the retention rate for Century Scholars is higher than the averages for all Texas A&M students, In 2003, the program was one of nine institutional programs receiving the Retention Excellence Award by Noel-Levitz, the nation's leading higher education consulting firm for recruiting and retention issues, and was cited as a model race-neutral program by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
Contact: Peggy Samson, Director of Communications and External Relations, (979) 845-6366
Texas A&M University - Texas Aggie Access Program
Texas Aggie Access is a living-learning community program that provides academic and enrichment support to freshmen with characteristics indicating with that they might not succeed at a large institution such as Texas A&M University. In a "learning component," the program provides selected core curriculum courses to small sections of 25 students each to engage them in higher-level interactions with faculty and other students, providing them with strong academic advising, peer, faculty and staff mentoring; academic enrichment programs; and opportunities for international experience. The "living component" provides housing in a living-learning residence hall and extensive social and service-learning enrichment activities. A higher percentage of Access participants maintained a 3.5 grade point ratio and persisted in higher education than non-participants. Participants also completed more semester credit hours than non-participants.
Contact: Peggy Samson, Director of Communications and External Relations, (979) 845-6366
Texas A&M University-Galveston - Galveston Aggie Technology and Engineering Scholars (GATES)
The Galveston Aggie Technology and Engineering Scholars (GATES) program, established in 2001, provides scholarships as well as specialized tutoring, a summer mathematics institute, professional experiences, and mentoring and career services to help economically disadvantaged students persist and earn degrees in marine engineering fields. As a result of these efforts, the program also helps participants find jobs or pursue graduate degrees. GATES scholars are involved in student government, a freshman leadership program, and the Corps of Cadets, as well as supporting other students academically. GATES scholars are frequently listed among the Dean's and Distinguished Student Awards and the Outstanding Freshman Chemistry Award recipients. Scholars have also reached out to the Galveston community, participating in Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Galveston Beach Patrol, and the Boy Scouts, as well as in support for the Galveston Ballet Company.
Contact: Donna Lang, Assistant Vice President for Academic Services, (409) 740-4419 Top
University of Houston-Downtown - College of Science & Technology Scholars Academy at UHD
The Scholars Academy recruits and encourages the persistence of academically capable, first-generation-in-college science, math, computer science, and engineering students by overcoming some of academic preparation, peer culture, and classroom climate barriers they face. As part of an effort to increase the number of minority and female students and graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math, the program provides scholarships, mentorship stipends, and summer research stipends, and cultivates a culture of achievement, community, and support among participants. Participating students are recruited to participate in on- and off-campus research programs and internships beginning at the end of the freshman year. Students' research has been recognized at regional and national meetings. In addition, the persistence rate of 91 percent for the program far exceeds the 65 percent persistence rate for all majors at 11 peer institutions in Texas.
Contact: Larry Spears, Co-Director, Scholars Academy, (713) 221-8426
University of Texas at El Paso - Circles of Learning for Entering Students (CircLES) The Circles of Learning for Entering Students (CircLES) program recruits and encourages the persistence of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students. Components include a five-day orientation, with math-review and placement test re-take sessions and engineering/science research modules, and learning communities with a major-specific, first-year seminar for entering students. The program also helps students develop leadership skills and obtain research experience, as well as explore opportunities for pursuing graduate school CircLES is a nationally recognized as one of 20 colleges and universities studied through Project DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practices), conducted by The National Center for Student Engagement at Indiana University as case studies of institutions that effectively promote student engagement and student success. The program is also frequently referenced by the National Learning Communities Project at Evergreen State College in Washington. After CircLES was implemented, one-year persistence rates for science, technology, engineering, and math students increased from 68 percent to 80 percent, the two-year persistence rate increased from 55 percent to 70 percent, and the three-year persistence rate increased from 46 percent to 62 percent.
Contact: Maggy Smith, Dean of University College, (915) 747-5151
University of Texas at El Paso - Law School Preparation Institute
The Law School Preparation Institute is substantially increasing the number of UTEP students who qualify for admission to and succeed in the nation's top law schools. Program components include two intensive summer sessions, beginning after the sophomore year and continuing the next year, which improve students' analytical thinking and logical reasoning skills and familiarize them with the type of legal analysis expected in law school. More than 80 percent of participating students increase their grade point averages, and 90 percent of participants who completed the admission process have been admitted to at least one law school. In addition, approximately 20 UTEP students annually are admitted to at least one of the nation's top 50 law schools, compared to only seven prior to the program.
Contact: Shelli Soto, Director, Center for Law and Border Studies, (915) 747-7973