TSTC and Gear Up host first ‘College Connection Experience’

BY Amanda Sotelo

Texas State Technical College recently hosted more than 100 students from eight high schools located in Cameron County for the first “College Connection Experience.”

These students are part of the Region One Gear Up program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The partnership between 30 Rio Grande Valley high schools aims to increase the number of students who graduate from high school and enroll in post-secondary institutions.

The students who visited TSTC are in their senior year and have been followed by the Gear Up program since seventh grade. After completing the annual ACT Engage Survey, these students showed no interest in attending college after high school.

“The results we received told us that these students could benefit from additional opportunities to explore colleges and career opportunities,” said Region One’s Education Specialist Angela Delamar. “And from what I’ve been told by my colleagues, TSTC has worked their magic once again.”

Delamar said she had an overwhelming number of students who were reluctant to attend college, but left the event ready to apply and attend TSTC.

“Our students said they felt supported by the staff at TSTC,” said Delamar. “Many explained they see their next step and are ready to start TSTC, a place where they feel they finally fit in.”

During the “College Experience Connection,” the group of high school seniors had the opportunity to hear from TSTC’s Provost Dr. Stella Garcia, participate in ice breakers and take a tour of the campus.

Additionally, students attended sessions on the benefits of attending college and TSTC admissions and financial aid processes. They also heard from TSTC student ambassadors about overcoming barriers.

TSTC’s Director of Student Recruitment Dora Colvin, like Delamar, is excited to see that this event had a successful outcome.

“This event was a true success,” said Colvint. “They enjoyed meeting staff and students and learning what TSTC offers. I was so impressed with these students and their questions. They were so engaged.”

Colvin said many of the students in attendance had already applied to TSTC, but those that had not were inspired and applied that day.

“This day made a positive impact on their lives,” said Colvin.

In April, the same group of students will return to TSTC for career exploration, where they will have the opportunity of participating in in-depth tours of the programs they listed on their college applications as careers they are interested in pursuing.

Finally, in June, these students will return for New Student Orientation.

“TSTC is working hard to try to address every concern and question these students have about pursuing a higher education,” said Delamar. “Their goal is to remove any barrier or obstacle keeping them from attending college, and this event was a turn in the right direction. I’m excited it was such a huge success.”

To apply to TSTC visit tstc.edu. New student registration for Summer and Fall 2017 begins April 3. For more information call 956-364-4119.