HOUSTON – U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha J. Kanter and Jon Whitmore, CEO of ACT, joined Excelencia in Education at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday (Sept. 27) to honor the University of Houston-Downtown’s Scholars Academy program as among America’s top programs that increase degree completion among Latinos at the baccalaureate level.
The Scholars Academy was selected from among 195 competitors as one of 16 national finalists for the 2011 Examples of Excelencia recognition.
The UHD’s Scholars Academy (SA) is an academically competitive scholarship and mentoring program in the College of Sciences and Technology that supports exceptional minority and female, first time in college (FTIC), first generation, and transfer students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“For America to achieve President Obama’s goal of becoming the world leader in college degrees by 2020, it is vital that we increase degree completion among Latinos,” said Kanter. “The successful and innovative programs recognized today are examples of institutions working to do their part, and I commend Excelencia in Education for helping institutional leaders, educators, and policy makers to understand these best practices.”
“As one of this year’s national finalists, UHD’s Scholars Academy is at the forefront of meeting the challenge of improving higher educational achievement for Latino students, and we congratulate them for their current and continued efforts,” said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education.
UHD President Bill Flores said, “The Excelencia in Education recognition affirms the hard work of our Scholars Academy faculty and students. The program helps students succeed. The program information now will be included in the Exelencia best practices data base for other educators to use to increase Latino student retention and graduation rates. Success leads to success. That’s a great outcome.”
Top honors went to programs run by El Paso Community College, Texas Tech University, and Carlos Albizu University, San Juan Campus in Puerto Rico. All of the programs recognized during the Celebraciòn de Excelencia 2011 event are listed in the latest edition of “What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education,” which Excelencia in Education released today and is available for download at http://www.edexcelencia.org/.
For the 2011 Examples of Excelencia competition, programs were nominated at three academic levels: associate, baccalaureate, and graduate. These programs demonstrate broad geographical representation in the effort to contribute to Latino student success and represent 22 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
UHD Scholars Academy director Mary Jo Parker said, “By providing tuition support scholarships and year‐round mentoring with peer and STEM PhD faculty mentors, a scholars’ community forms the foundation for success in this program.”
Students participate in first-hand, high-impact activities promoting scholarly research and career investigation. Seminars, colloquia, and on‐sight field trips with peer and faculty mentors afford undergraduates the mechanisms to experience many of the careers they envision for themselves, Parker said.
Support of student research presentations in settings ranging from local to international conferences provides the high-impact experiences that acclimate, motivate, and dedicate these students to completing their degrees and pursing STEM careers. “We add a service learning component to the peer mentor group activities which truly establishes a science leadership experience within the community/industry setting,” Parker said.
Examples of Excelencia is a national initiative to systematically identify and honor institution-based programs and departments that demonstrate with evidence that they effectively boost Latino enrollment, performance and graduation. It is supported by USA Funds, ACT, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, EduK, Univision Communications, Educational Testing Service, College Board, and the California State University System,
To download “What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education,” which includes detailed information about all of the programs recognized today, visit www.EdExcelencia.org.
Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education.