Students who complete their associate's degrees in teaching at South Texas College (STC) will now have a smoother transition when they transfer to The University of Texas-Pan American to finish their bachelor's degrees in interdisciplinary studies after the two institutions signed an articulation agreement June 30.
The articulation agreement will streamline the process for students earning an Associate of Arts in teaching from STC who would like to transfer to UTPA to complete their bachelor's degrees and offers a degree plan for interested students to follow.
UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas said this agreement will help increase the number and quality of teachers the Rio Grande Valley is producing and reduce the national teacher shortage.
"We have a shortage of teachers across this country and across the state. In the Rio Grande Valley, you can multiply the shortage by three since the region is growing at an incredible pace," Cárdenas said. "We need to focus a strong collaborative, collegial attention to the broad range of challenges we will face in educating all of our students."
Students who begin their course of study at STC may choose between elementary, middle school and high school curricula tracks. All three tracks require 60 credit hours of coursework including 45 hours of recommended courses from the core curriculum and 15 hours in the field of study. Once the students complete their associate's degree they can transfer all of their credits to select four-year degree-granting institutions, including UTPA.
"STC students who transfer will have taken two education courses which will increase their awareness and knowledge of the teaching profession before enrolling at UTPA," Dr. Velma Menchaca, interim dean of the UT Pan American College of Education, said. "They will be stronger students because they will have had knowledge in content and pedagogy before starting at the University."
Lisa De Leon, who is finishing her associate's degree at STC this summer and transferring to UTPA in the fall, said the articulation agreement was an essential part of her education and being able to make a smooth transition to obtaining a bachelor's degree.
"As a working mother and parent of two children, I was vigilant as to whether I would be capable of maintaining the course load without overexerting our financial budget. So therefore, I began the STC educational program," said De Leon, who plans to earn a master's degree at UTPA as well. "I feel I am not the only individual who has different reasons on why they have hesitations about how to get back into the routine of going to college. But, I know this agreement will open many more opportunities for individuals who want to complete their degrees and begin their journey of making a difference in education."
According to the State Board for Educator Certification, UTPA ranks second in the number of teacher graduates in Texas and first in the nation in the number of bilingual education graduates.
"This is a great step toward the success of students. This agreement will get students truly motivated and prepared to attend UTPA," said Dr. Margaretha Bischoff, interim dean of the Division of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at STC. "At the community college level, we provide hope and are only a step toward a dream come true. At the university dreams are realized."