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Student Growth and Quality

Higher Numbers, Higher Standards
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Enrollment reached an all-time high in fall 2010, as almost 33,000 students made UT Arlington their university of choice. That represents a remarkable 31 percent increase from just two years ago and a 17 percent increase over last year. With the quantity surge also comes a rise in quality. Nearly 30 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and their average SAT score continues to improve. Not only is UT Arlington attracting more gifted students to campus, but our initiatives to retain them are succeeding, as 73 percent of last year’s freshmen returned for their sophomore year. That’s a significant gain over the previous year and an important indicator of future academic success. Our students are among the brightest of their generation, and they thrive in a diverse environment that mirrors the world around them. UT Arlington is now a minority-majority campus, with Hispanics (17 percent) and African-Americans (14 percent) representing the largest minority groups.

Lex Gonzalez

THE SKY IS NOT THE LIMIT

People draw inspiration from many sources—books, poems, other individuals. Doctoral student Lex Gonzalez’s inspiration came from a movie, October Sky, based on the true story of a coal miner’s son who became a NASA rocket scientist. While he isn’t a rocket scientist yet, Gonzalez has worked on two NASA-contracted projects and a third through an invitation from the space agency. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering here in 2009 and stayed to become one of the 1,036 Ph.D. students enrolled at UT Arlington in fall 2010. His NASA research has spanned long-haul commercial transports for 2050 to hypersonic vehicles flying at up to 12 times the speed of sound. His work on hypersonic vehicles may be incorporated into NASA’s next X plane. Gonzalez decided to forego earning a master’s degree, choosing instead to work straight toward a doctorate. To do that, he had to quit his job as a bank teller, his only source of income. However, because of his research and academic achievements, he received a two-year Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship that provides more than enough funding to pay for books, tuition, and living expenses.

Allyson Polman

ACADEMIC POWERHOUSE

In UT Arlington, freshman Allyson Polman has found the perfect match for her academic prowess. She graduated from the rigorous Bethesda Christian School in Fort Worth, where she maintained a 4.0 or higher grade-point average and received numerous awards. Polman thrives in an academically challenging environment—and she knows she’s found a worthy home. “I looked at all the universities in Texas that had excellent social work programs and narrowed my choices to two schools,” she says. UT Arlington ultimately won because of its outstanding social work programming and enticing scholarships. In fact, Polman set her sights on one scholarship in particular—the Honors Distinction Scholarship—which is the University’s most prestigious and largest monetary award. It’s highly sought-after and requires stringent academic standards, and it’s the only one she applied for. “I set my mind and will to receive the Honors Distinction Scholarship,” she says, “and by working my very hardest, I was able to do just that.” She’s on track to graduate in 2014 and plans to earn a master’s degree in social work at UT Arlington. After college she wants to work for Child Protective Services and then join the Peace Corps.