Dr. Martha Cantu, vice president for the Division of Student Affairs at The University of Texas-Pan American, has been appointed as an advisory board member to the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP).
Cantu is one of four new members to the NCCEP board, which will meet in Washington, D.C. July 22-25 in conjunction with the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Annual Conference to be held at the Washington Hilton. Her term officially begins July 1.
Cantu said she considers it an honor to be a member of the board and also representing UTPA.
"I am looking forward to this appointment. It's a big responsibility because we'll be helping drive policy and make recommendations at a national level for all students who are underprivileged and maybe didn't think they could go to college," Cantu said. "I feel honored they would ask me to be a part of NCCEP. It's good for UTPA, our students and everyone."
NCCEP is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the fundamental principle that every child deserves an equal chance to obtain a high-quality education. It strengthens research-based college access program and develops tools and resources to provide educational opportunities for all students.
The organization also seeks to help improve public K-16 education by creating education and community partnerships, linking schools and communities, developing new research based college access programs and supporting the implementation of proven educational strategies.
Most significant of these efforts is the federally funded GEAR UP initiative for which NCCEP serves as the national technical assistance provider, annual conference convener and voice in Washington, D.C.
GEAR UP is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of low-income, minority, and first-generation students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP programs operate at high-poverty middle and high schools in 46 states.
Cantu served as director of the GEAR UP program at UTPA for six years and NCCEP executive members took notice of this experience, offering her a position on their board.
"We are delighted to add Dr. Cantu's experience and expertise to the NCCEP Board of Directors," said Nathan Monell, executive director for NCCEP. "Her deep knowledge of the GEAR UP program, students and community is an incredible asset to our ability to strengthen the effectiveness of GEAR UP across the U.S. We look forward to working with her."
Cantu's work experience includes more than 21 years in public education and 10 years in higher education, experience she believes will benefit the work ahead with NCCEP.
"I think of this as being such important work for me. I think back to my experiences and what I went through and where I come from, where I have been and where I am in life, and I think, maybe I do have something to offer," she said. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel that way. I live for seeing students be successful. If I can help in any small way, I am honored."