Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville Awarded Nearly $4.4 Million From Department Of Education

KINGSVILLE - November 29, 2007

Contact: Julie Navejar
kajam03@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

Funding enables university to serve students from sixth grade to college

KINGSVILLE (November 29, 2007) — Four programs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville that assist predominantly low-income, first-generation and minority, college students have been awarded renewed funding from the U.S. Department of Education totaling nearly $4.4 million.

The four programs – Ronald E. McNair Scholars, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science and Education Opportunity Center – are coordinated through the Department of Special Programs. These four programs, plus another program coordinated by Special Programs, the Educational Talent Search, allow the university to serve children as young as sixth grade to through college, said Mary Gonzalez, assistant vice president for special programs.

The McNair Scholars and Education Opportunity Center grant applications ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation for their category giving them five years of funding while Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math and Science received four years of monetary support. This translates into over $1 million for each program.

Texas A&M-Kingsville’s McNair Scholars program was the only program in Texas to rank in the top 10 percent in three consecutive award cycles. Nationwide this year, there were 188 McNair Scholars programs and 135 Education Opportunity Centers that received awards.

“We serve our university students, but we also have programs that prepare high school students for college and assist in identifying junior high school students who also are college-bound,” said Gonzalez. “Most of our programs are aimed at first-generation college students, low income and underrepresented students.”

Ronald McNair Scholars

The McNair Scholars program, which received $1.26 million, serves 28 college juniors and seniors each year, introducing them to the world of research and encouraging them to pursue doctoral degrees. About two-thirds of the students in the program are first-generation college students and come from low-income families, Gonzalez said. The others are students underrepresented in graduate education.

McNair Scholars work closely with faculty in their field of study to complete an extensive research project. Many go on to present their results among their peers at student conferences or to professionals in their disciplines. They learn the techniques of research and receive stipends to assist them and allow students to focus on research.

Because the majority of McNair Scholars continue with graduate school, students receive assistance with graduate school applications, tutoring for graduate school entrance exams and financial aid information. Of the students in the A&M-Kingsville program, 98 percent receive their bachelor’s degree, 73 percent continue on to graduate programs at prestigious schools around the country and 10 percent have completed a doctoral degree. There are 49 A&M-Kingsville McNair Scholars currently in master’s or doctoral pipelines.

The program is named for Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the second African American to fly in space. He was killed in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

For information on the McNair program, call Mayra Hough at 361-593-2095 or Nino Castillo at 361-593-2241.

Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math and Science

Future college students are served through the Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math and Science programs.

Upward Bound serves 50 high school students each year from H.M. King (Kingsville), Bishop, Falfurrias, Kaufer (Riviera), San Diego and Alice High Schools. Qualifying students must be ninth or tenth graders, have a need for academic support and meet income and first-generation guidelines.

Those chosen for Upward Bound participate in a summer program on campus where they get a feel for college life, receive intensive instruction in core curriculum subjects, have a faculty or staff mentor and receive tutoring and counseling services. But the program does not end there. Throughout the year, they attend seminars on career awareness, test taking and more.

Gonzalez said many prominent local citizens have come through the Upward Bound program including long-time Nueces County Attorney Carlos Valdez who was honored by the program in the late 1990s.

The Upward Bound Math and Science program targets basically the same students, but those chosen must show a high interest in the math and science fields. With the assistance given these students in both summer and school year programs, it is expected they will graduate college with a degree in a math, science or engineering field.

Upward Bound Math and Science also serves 50 students from H.M. King (Kingsville), Alice, Bishop, Robstown, Kaufer (Riviera), San Diego and Edinburg High Schools.

For more information on Upward Bound, call Dynyel Miller at 361-593-4589, and for Upward Bound Math and Science, call Martha Castillo at 361-593-2277.

Education Opportunity Center

A&M-Kingsville houses one of three Education Opportunity Centers that is located on a college campus, Gonzalez said. Most are operated by a non-profit community agency and managed by a board of directors or located at two-year campus. The goal of the program is to increase the number of adults enrolled in higher education, and the A&M-Kingsville center serves predominately adults who want to get back into higher education or begin college studies. Many left high school before graduating and so require a GED before beginning the college process, Gonzalez said, and the center provides guidance and tutoring for the GED.

The center also provides information and counseling to help clients get on the road to higher education, such as assistance in completing financial aid applications, tutoring for college entrance exams, career planning and goal-setting, academic and personal advisement and information on post-secondary education opportunities. The program has assisted several high schools in Corpus Christi with admissions and financial aid information.

. To qualify for the program, a student must be at least 19 and a potential first-generation college student who meets low-income guidelines. Veterans of any age are also accepted into the program. Students younger than 19 who do not qualify for the Education Talent Search also may be accepted into the program.

For more information on the Educational Opportunity Center, call Noel Rodriguez at 361-593-2169.

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