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$280,000 awarded to UTPA by THECB to support Work-Study Mentorship Program
By Gail Fagan, Public Affairs Representative
381-2741
Posted: 09/23/2009
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The University of Texas-Pan American has announced it has been awarded $280,000 in Work-Study Mentorship Program funding over the next two years from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).

The funding will support 35 Collegiate G-Force student work-study mentors under a number of University programs to provide services and activities to increase the number of students transitioning into and succeeding in post-secondary education.


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Three Collegiate G-Force members -- all student work-study mentors at UTPA -- helped prepare for the opening of a Go Center at Premier High School of Pharr.
In her announcement Sept. 16, Dr. Judith Loredo, THECB’s assistant commissioner for P-16 Initiatives, said the grants will assist the board’s efforts to address the participation and success goals of Closing the Gaps by 2015, a plan adopted in 2000 directed at closing educational gaps in Texas and between Texas and other states. She said these funds increase the persistence and subsequent graduation rates of both the work-study students and those they mentor. Thirty-two colleges and universities statewide received varying amounts of funding for fiscal years 2010 and 2011. UTPA has received the Work-Study Mentorship funding from the THECB for the last two fiscal years.

At UTPA, most of the student mentors funded under the grant will work in programs under the umbrella of the Department of College Access and Support Programs (CASP) in the Division of Enrollment and Student Services (ESS). CASP is directed to reaching select student populations traditionally underrepresented in higher education through pre-college outreach and college-readiness services. Through CASP, a total of 38 high schools within 21 school districts and about six community organizations are served in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties.

CASP services include the Valley Outreach Center which provides a UTPA Go Center resource site and Go Centers located in 22 area high schools and four charter schools, all providing college access services; Educational Talent Search, a federally-funded program which assists 1,000 low-income, first generation students in college readiness skills; and College Assistance Migrant Program, a federally-funded program that assists migrant and seasonal farmworkers who are pursuing higher education.

Work study mentors funded under this grant also work in the Office of Student Financial Services and Scholarships, another ESS department, which assists students in eliminating financial barriers to their pursuit for higher education.

Lisa Prieto, CASP director, said Collegiate G-Force mentors funded by this grant play an important role in assisting CASP offices in providing services to their targeted populations.

“The Work-Study Mentorship Program will allow us to continue to serve our partner school districts and community centers, providing our pre-college constituents with information and assistance on how to prepare for, apply to and succeed in college. Our Collegiate G-Force, as the mentors are known, can help high school students and parents on a variety of college topics, from the college selection process to admissions, financial aid and scholarship applications to major and career choice explorations. We want students to be knowledgeable of their options and opportunities as they think about and plan for college,” she said.

Students interested in being a work-study mentor need to be work-study eligible. For more information, contact Petra Lopez-Vaquera, director, Valley Outreach Center at 956/292-7597 or via e-mail at lopezvaqp@utpa.edu.