UTPA receives grant for Educational Talent Search program
Posted: 09/11/2006
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Providing yet another opportunity for students to pursue a higher education, The University of Texas-Pan American's Educational Talent Search (ETS) program recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Education of renewed funding of more than $1.6 million over four years.

Housed at UTPA since 1982, ETS is designed to assist students whose parents do not have a four-year bachelor's degree or have limited financial resources with services that will prepare them for successful entry into college.

UTPA's ETS award, which will provide $403,546 annually starting Sept. 1, 2007, enables the program to provide academic, career and financial counseling to its participants and encourages them to graduate from high school and enroll at the postsecondary institution of their choice. ETS middle and high school participants receive services such as mentoring, career and college exploration, ACT/SAT test preparation workshops and academic advising for the transition from high school to college. ETS currently works in 13 high schools and three middle schools in 12 Hidalgo County school districts and is funded to serve 812 participants.

"News of our continued funding is certainly very gratifying, since it confirms what our students, parents, and school partners know and experience on a day-to-day basis: that our ETS program has a proven and successful track record of preparing students for entry into postsecondary education. ETS plays a major role in the community as we continue to strengthen and grow a college-going culture through vital partnerships with our target schools," Felipe Salinas, director of College Access and Support Programs at UTPA, said.

Serving as ETS director for more than 15 years, Sonia del Angel wrote the current grant renewal proposal which was chosen amid stiff competition from many other institutions and nonprofits submitting proposals for funding. She said the grant allows her and the ETS staff to tailor the programs and workshops they offer to help students enter and succeed in college to suit the needs of the students they serve.

"We try to make the delivery of the information and services as enjoyable and interactive as possible. This includes the use of computer labs for online scholarship and college exploration searches and use of interactive career interest inventories, innovative Web sites and real world scenarios. We have developed games and other tools like Financial Aid Jeopardy, ETS Bingo, Win, Lose or Draw Career Game to name a few to make learning a fun process," she said.

Del Angel is assisted by a staff of four counselors, a part-time database worker and eight to 10 mentor student advisers. ETS staff travels to each of the participating schools once or twice a month, depending on the curriculum, to provide outreach services. The program is designed to serve 15-20 students per each grade level. The grant also provides an annual enrichment day on campus for each grade level as well as special program opportunities for participants, such as a special whirlwind summer tour of college campuses for "college ready" students in the program.

"We have a primary goal - to facilitate a student's entrance into the college of their choice, while trying to keep it as enjoyable and educational as possible," del Angel said.

For more information on the ETS program, contact del Angel at 956/292-7590. ###