The College Board's national search picks one of UTPA's finest students for its video campaign
Posted: 12/16/2003
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Omar Visario being interviewed for his outstanding achievements and as a candidate for the College Board marketing video.

Omar Visario, a junior electrical engineering student at The University of Texas-Pan American, was one of 14 students nationwide chosen to represent the College Board's Advanced Placement Program (AP) in a national campaign designed to encourage more students to enroll in AP courses.

The College Board, headquartered in New York City, is a national nonprofit membership association whose mission is to "prepare, inspire and connect students to college success and opportunity."

"Our goal is to get every high school student college ready," said Ayeola Boothe, associate director of the K12 Access and Equity Initiative for the College Board. "With this video, we ultimately want to dispel the myth that students have to be gifted or outstanding to qualify to take AP courses in high school. AP courses can be taken by anyone who is willing to work hard."

When you look at the rising cost of education it becomes evident that it would behoove students to take AP courses in high school. Due to the reciprocal relationship between high schools and colleges that provide for the transfer of AP courses, it is cost effective to take AP classes because it shortens the student's time in college.

As the eldest of six children in a single parent household, Visario worked his last three years in high school while taking a full load of AP classes. Upon graduating, Visario had scored well enough on his AP exams to obtain 51 credits at UTPA, earning him sophomore standing.

"Students should definitely take AP classes because the classes train you for college," Visario said. "Students that don't take AP classes get to college and they are shocked at the difficulty that they face with their course work."

The College Board serves over three million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools and 3,500 colleges through major programs and services in college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment and teaching. The Standardized Assessment Test (SAT), the Practice SAT and the AP program are some of its best known programs. The College Board wants to increase AP enrollment across the country and is using the marketing video to do that.

"We want average ninth and 10th graders to recognize that the AP program can help them achieve so much more from their education," said Dave Joslin, account manager for Krauf/LeSever Studios Inc., a media production company based in Rochester, New York.

Achieve Visario did. While attending Edinburg North High School, Visario was awarded National Merit Scholar, AP Merit Scholar and honor roll. He currently has a full engineering scholarship at UTPA.

"I didn't want to disappoint my mother," Visario said. "She and my teachers were the greatest influence on me. When other kids were identifying themselves as 'Rebels,' 'Athletes' and 'Clowns,' I told myself that I was going to be the 'Smart one'."

Visario is in good company with students from such schools as Columbia University and Duke University, who were among those chosen for the video. When it is completed in February, the video will be distributed to 25,000 high schools across the country to be used as a tool to encourage more students to enroll in AP classes.