Presented by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Applications for the 2002 Star Awards were submitted by 83 programs, projects, or activities conducted by Texas higher education institutions, and organizations, groups, or individuals focused on education. Fifteen finalists were identified in an initial review, with seven finalists selected to receive awards:
Baylor College of Medicine - Premedical Honors College.
This eight-year, high school-through-medical school pathway, established in partnership with The University of Texas-Pan American in 1994, is significantly increasing the number of South Texas students pursuing medical education. South Texas high school graduates who are selected for the program, based on their academic performance, maturity, and other factors, enroll as undergraduates at UT-Pan American and are given conditional acceptance to Baylor College of Medicine. They pay no tuition and fees for eight years (as undergraduates and medical school students), and participate in summer academic programs as undergraduates. Of the 71 program participants who have earned baccalaureate degrees, 60 have entered medical school and five - representing the first cohort of participants - graduated from medical school in May 2002. In addition, 57 percent of 84 students who entered the programs between 1994 and 1997 had been admitted to medical school, compared to only 21 percent of 19 students who were accepted to the program but chose not to participate and 14 percent of the 50 students who applied but were not accepted to the program.
Contact: John Tyler, (713) 798-4712
Del Mar College - Department of Computer Science & Computer Information Systems.
Over the past five years, the number of students enrolled in this department has nearly doubled, from 325 students to more than 600 students, and the number of degree and certificate programs available to students has increased from three to 12. In addition, the department was recognized by the Coordinating Board's Community and Technical College's Division in 2001 as an exemplary program. This recognition was based on high graduation rates and high student retention rates, student achievement in the classroom, faculty qualifications, instructional effectiveness, use of instructional technology, and distance learning activities. In addition, the department has trained more than 30 Cisco-certified instructors who have served more than 600 students at 20 high schools, and is successfully working on technology-based research with other institutions.
Contact: Claudia Jackson, (362) 698-1274
Lamar University - The Monitored Probation Early Intervention Program.
Approximately two-thirds of participating students improved their grades through this comprehensive, early-intervention program for students faced with academic probation, and approximately 20 percent of participants achieve good academic standing each semester. Center for General Studies students with grade point averages less than 2.0 are required to participate in the program as a condition of continued enrollment at the university. Participation includes academic counseling and tutoring services, study skills courses, workshops, and supplemental instruction. Student progress is monitored and evaluated through personal contact and reports on their academic performance. Studies indicate that program participants increase their grade point averages and maintain higher grade point averages than non-participants on academic probation.
Contact: Madelyn D. Hunt, (409) 832-6030
Prairie View A&M University - Academy for Collegiate Excellence and Student Success (ACCESS)/University College.
Through a series of intervention efforts, beginning with the ACCESS program and continuing today with a broader effort called the University College, student retention rates have been increased. For example, 79 percent of first-time, full-time students who participated in the ACCESS program in 2000 were enrolled one year later, compared to 69 percent of all students at the university. ACCESS offers an intensive, residential summer, pre-college academic component and a comprehensive student support service component during the freshman year. University College, which is based on the ongoing success of the ACCESS effort, supports all freshmen through intensive advisement and support services available through academically focused residential learning communities and a Freshman Center.
Contact: Willie Trotty, (936) 857-4494
San Jacinto College-North Campus - HomeGrown Teacher Education Program.
More than 25 new teachers have already graduated through this program, which was created in 1999 to provide new local teachers who more closely reflect the race/ethnicity of the area's students. Participation in the program has rapidly increased as well, from 25 when the program began to more than 150 annually today. HomeGrown involves a collaborative partnership involving a community college (San Jacinto-North), public school districts (Galena Park and Sheldon), a university (University of Houston-Clear Lake), civic organizations, and students. The educational institutions work together to offer community college preparation, university graduation, and school district experience for future teachers in the Gulf Coast region of the state. Civic organizations provide financial aid to some participants.
Contact: Joyce Langenegger, (281) 459-7653
Southwest Texas State University (in partnership with Alamo Community College District, Laredo Community College, Southwest Texas Junior College, and Victoria Independent School District) - Central/South Texas ENLACE Partnership.
The Central/South Texas ENLACE Partnership (CSTEP) is helping high schools achieve a Texas Education Agency "Exemplary" rating and working to increase the number of Hispanics enrolling in, attending, and graduating from higher education institutions. Each partner has a full-time educational advocate directing a local coalition aimed at these goals. Examples of activities include bilingual college-awareness workshops for parents and students, follow-up calls to students who submit incomplete applications for college admissions, and student visits to college and university campuses. When the partnership became active, the six public high schools involved were rated by TEA as "Acceptable." Today, one of these high schools has advanced to an "Exemplary" rating, while three others improved to receive the "Recognized" designation. In addition, Hispanic enrollment has increased at all of the partnership's higher education institutions. The partnership was established in 1999 to implement the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's initiative to Engage the Latino Community for Education (ENLACE).
Contact: Ruth Welborn, (512) 245-3300
Texas A&M University-Kingsville - South Texas Archives and Special Collections.
Over the past 10 years, this library branch has become a major research center for the study of the rural, bilingual, multicultural population of South Texas and northern Mexico states. Working with faculty members in other departments, projects sponsored by the archives staff offer students opportunities to collect historical documents that help engender a cultural pride. Examples include collecting oral histories from people in South Texas, studying the original Kingsville town site's history, and conducting document preservation workshops through a consortium of local libraries, museums, and interested people. Preservation training and services offered through this effort are believed to be unique in South Texas.
Contact: Joann Castro, (361) 593-2146
Texas Woman's University - Nursing Success Program.
By providing at-risk nursing students with courses in managing time, studying, English usage, taking tests, using computers, medical calculations, understanding the role of nurses in American professional culture, managing stress, and thinking critically, this program helps retain students in the nursing program. Nearly three-fourths of the 74 students admitted to the program during the past four semesters (since the creation of the program) are under-represented minorities, and 67 remain as nursing students, representing a 91 percent retention rate to date. Data suggests that without the Nursing Success Program, about one-half of these students would have been likely to leave the nursing program.
Contact: Carolyn Barnes, (940) 898-3456
The University of Texas at Arlington - Maverick Scholar Association.
Groups of 15 to 25 freshmen students enroll with students in similar majors in at least three of the same classes, allowing them to get to know and support each other better and to form study groups. Through one of the courses, titled "College Adjustment," a faculty member and peer counselor help the students learn how to succeed in their major, build personal connections with faculty and staff, develop strong study skills, and make the most of campus resources. The program serves students majoring in the institution's most popular disciplines: education, engineering, nursing, pre-medicine, liberal arts/undeclared, business, and service learning. Retention rates for participating students are 6 to 13.7 percentage points higher than for non-participating students. Beginning this fall, the program includes a living/learning element, through which students will take classes together while living in the same residence wing as their peer counselor.
Contact: Cheryl Cardell, (817) 272-3268
The University of Texas at El Paso - Law School Preparation Institute.
Two intensive, month-long sessions in the summer are the core of this effort, which increases the pool of University of Texas at El Paso students who are qualified applicants to the nation's law schools. In the first session, students examine philosophical and literary texts focusing on law, justice, and logic, giving students better analytical, critical thinking, and logical argumentation skills. The second session involves preparation for taking the Law School Admissions Test, participating in moot court sessions, and preparing law school admissions materials. Before the Law School Preparation Institute was established, approximately seven UTEP students were offered admission to the nation's top 50 law schools. Over the past three years, however, the top 50 law schools offered admission annually to an average of 20 UTEP students who participated in the institute.
Contact: Shelli Soto, (915) 747-8866
The University of Texas at El Paso - The Mother-Daughter Program.
More than 3,000 girls in the sixth through 12th grades and their mothers have been empowered to complete their education through college as a result of this 17-year-old effort. Between 200 and 300 mother-daughter teams meet one Saturday each month beginning when the daughters are in the sixth grade. Activities involve building students' self-esteem while encouraging them to complete high school and go to college, orienting the students to higher education and professional careers, providing academic and life-skills training to improve the students' preparation for college, and increasing the parental commitment to higher education by involving mothers in these activities. Results from one participating school district with a historically high number of dropouts illustrate the program's success: All of the 16 girls who first participated in the program in 1993-94 graduated from high school, and 14 of them were enrolled in college in January 2002.
Contact: Josefina Tinajero, (915) 747-5689
The University of Texas at San Antonio - Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program (TexPREP).
Middle and high school students interested in engineering, science, technology, and other mathematics-related disciplines participate in seven- to eight-week mathematics-based academic enrichment sessions through this nationally recognized program, a partnership of 23 community colleges and universities. TexPREP develops abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills through coursework, homework, team projects, class presentations, and tests. Approximately 81 percent of the 18,992 students who have completed at least one summer session represent minority groups, and approximately one-half the participating students have been from economically disadvantaged families. A survey returned by approximately one-half of former participants indicates that 1,355 of them are enrolled in engineering, science, mathematics, or computer science disciplines at higher education institutions, and another 859 have graduated from those programs. An additional 2,559 former students are enrolled in or have graduated with degrees in other disciplines.
Contact: David Gabler, (210) 458-5101
The University of Texas-Pan American - University Scholars.
High school students who take a rigorous college-preparatory academic curriculum can earn a scholarship that pays four-year tuition and fees through outstanding performance in the Advanced Placement (AP) Program and/or the Concurrent Enrollment program at the university. To increase AP offerings in public schools, the university provides AP and Pre-AP summer training for 500 to 600 teachers annually. The number of freshmen entering the university with AP credit has increased from 145 in 1997, when the program was initiated, to 389 in 2001. The University of Texas-Pan American now consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in Texas in the number of students submitting AP scores. In addition, the number of students enrolled in the university's Concurrent Enrollment program increased from 66 in 1996-1997 to 969 in 2001-2002.
Contact: Julia Sullivan, (956) 381-2741
Tomball College - Camp of Course You Can!
At-risk students, defined as students with a GED, students returning to school after an extended layoff, students needing to or more developmental courses, and students on academic probation or suspension, are taught about the traits and skills that help guarantee success in college. Camp participants meet each morning for a week for support activities that include success stories from former campers. Of the 136 students enrolled in the camp who also enrolled the next semester, 127 completed that next semester, for a retention rate of 93 percent. Also, 73 percent of the 34 freshmen who participated in the program achieved the honor roll.
Contact: Wendy Lamb, (281) 351-3301
University of North Texas - Peer Advisor Program.
A learning/living environment helps improve retention and success rates for at-risk students by involving peer advisors to emphasize academics in residence halls, offering weekly programs to provide and help students develop study skills and find learning resources, and taking other measures that support student needs outside of the classroom. One-year retention rates for participating students have steadily increased, from 63 percent in fall 1998, when the program was initiated, to nearly 80 percent in fall 2000. By comparison, retention rates for the university's first-time, full-time freshmen have remained relatively steady at approximately 69 percent over the same period. Grade point ratios for participating students have improved significantly as well, and a decreasing percentage of them have been placed on academic probation.
Contact: Deborah Leliaert, (940) 565-2108