Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville, Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education receive $2.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant

KINGSVILLE - November 15, 2010

Contact: Adriana Garza
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4979

A $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will assist Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the College of Education and Human Performance in promoting higher education attainment for low-income Hispanic students, modernizing existing graduate programs, expanding the university’s library offerings and providing comprehensive faculty training.

The grant will fund the five-year South Texas Expansion Program for Hispanic Graduate Students program (STEP-HG)—a three prong initiative that seeks to:

  • Select highly motivated first year master’s and doctoral low-income Hispanic students, pairing them with mentors to guarantee their academic attainment.
  • Affirm the university’s infrastructure, academic repository and build its intellectual capacity.
  • Increase the professional capacities of the institution’s faculty. 

A&M-Kingsville is a Hispanic Serving Institution with a total Hispanic student population of approximately 66 percent. The grant will be administered through the Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education.

 “With funding from the Office of Postsecondary Education, low-income first year postbaccalaureate Hispanic students, the university community with its programs and services, and the south Texas Hispanic constituency will reap life-long educational and economic benefits,” said Dr. Roberto Torres, Associate Professor of the Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education. “STEP-HG will also benefit the state’s economy and intellectual capital of its Hispanic constituency by way of the higher state revenues they generate. STEP-HG’s significance resides in its promises to help change the way that low-income Hispanic students in South Texas receive the advanced education they need to improve the quality of their lives. It also promises to link university services and programs, enabling them to work in closer cooperation to care for the education of these students more effectively,” Torres said.

 Torres and Dr. Patricia Gomez, assistant professor in the Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education will co-direct the project.

 The grant will provide eight Hispanic, low-income and first-time College of Education and Human Performance master’s and eight doctoral students with generous scholarships, technology and support to guide as they complete their advanced degree. Eight master’s students and eight doctoral students will be selected to begin courses during the spring 2011 semester. Each master’s students chosen for the program will receive an $8,000 scholarship to complete their degree in the assigned three years. Each doctoral student will receive a $12,000 scholarship to complete their doctoral work in five years. Additionally, each recipient will receive a laptop equipped with most current research software to use during their studies and an assigned mentor from the university or area community.

 STEP-HG will target low-income Hispanic students due to the statistically lower rates of Hispanics pursing and earning advanced degrees. High poverty rates pervasive through South Texas further complicate the pursuit of master’s and doctorate degrees for Hispanics—the fastest growing population in the country. Nearly 30 percent of the Hispanic population in cities along the U.S.-Mexico border, including McAllen, Brownsville and Laredo, is impoverished.

 “In order to plan for growth and the increase of Hispanic presence in the educational pathway project directors considered the growing demand for a highly educated Hispanic workforce. STEP-HG funding becomes more critical to effectively assist graduate Hispanic students seeking advanced degrees,” Torres said.

 Additionally, the grant will fund the modernization of education graduate programs, better-tailoring them for distance learning courses. Graduate and doctoral programs will be transformed to reflect current educational thinking, philosophies and educational policy—a process the college has already imitated. The grant will also fund the upgrade of the university’s distance education delivery system to include state-of-the-art technology. STEP-HG funding will allow Jernigan Library to expand its digital offerings, adding the Web of Science database, a comprehensive electronic database that includes access to more than 11,000 research journals.

 STEP-HG will also provide faculty with a variety of professional training opportunities, which will ensure A&M-Kingsville students receive instruction from highly-qualified faculty. Faculty will become strong researchers in their fields, with an emphasis on Hispanic education. They will also receive training to become certified distance educators and peer reviewers.   

 Eligible students may apply and interview for the STEP-HG program during spring and fall semesters. For more information, contact the Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education at 361-593-2871.

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