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Pathways to College Access Program named finalist for 2015 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Star Award

Monday, November 23, 2015

Media Contact: Kristin Sullivan

News Topics: admissions, Arlington, classes, community service, education, students

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The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board named The University of Texas at Arlington’s Pathways to College Access and Career Readiness Program one of seven finalists for its Star Awards in recognition of the program’s efforts to help meet the state’s Closing the Gaps by 2015 goals.

GO Centers help high school students navigate path to college

UTA students and staff operate "GO Centers" in high schools throughout nine regional school districts to provide assistance and encouragement to prospective college students.

The program was selected from 48 nominations and 42 applications for this year’s Star Awards program. The award recognizes efforts to increase student participation and success in higher education, excellence in programs and services, and research development and expansion.

The Coordinating Board named Lone Star College-University Park the 2015 Star Award winner on Friday, Nov. 20, for the institution’s Education and Career Positioning System, a suite of applications that help provide students, faculty, advisors, and parents with the ability to simulate, validate and plan students’ education-to-career options and suggests the best individual journey to achieve students’ goals.

The award was given in conjunction with the Coordinating Board’s 2015 Texas Higher Education Leadership Conference focusing on 60x30TX, the next long-range strategic plan for Texas higher education.

Texas Higher Education Commission Raymund A. Paredes extended his congratulations to the 2015 Star Award winner and each of the finalists.

“The finalists represent the state’s most effective efforts for closing the education gaps that challenge our state,” Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes said in announcing the finalists last month. “The Coordinating Board is proud to recognize the people and the institutions that develop and implement these programs, as well as the organizations and others who support them.

“Thanks to the innovative and dedicated efforts of Texas higher education institutions, the state is about to achieve our Closing the Gaps goals. These types of initiatives will play a vital role in meeting the goals laid out in our new strategic plan, 60x30TX.”

Carla Amaro-Jimenez

Amaro-Jiménez

Carla Amaro-Jiménez, assistant professor of bilingual/ESL education in the UTA College of Education, directs the Pathways to College Access and Career Readiness Program.

“It is a tremendous honor to see the work our team is doing at UTA to engage students while they are still in high school and guide them to success throughout their college years recognized by the state’s top higher education leadership,” Amaro-Jiménez said. “The real reward, however, is seeing those students thrive at UTA, pursue their academic passions and find meaningful careers that enrich their lives.”

Amaro-Jiménez joined UTA in 2008 after earning her masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Cincinnati. An experienced bilingual education teacher and educator, Amaro-Jiménez works with pre- and in-service teachers as well as administrators who work with English learners and their families.

Through the Pathways to College Access and Career Readiness program, Amaro-Jiménez has established University-staffed GO Centers at high schools in nine regional districts. The program focuses on mentoring first-generation college students and at-risk high school students, supporting families of prospective college students through free workshops and conferences at their high schools and facilitating early college experiences through partner school districts.

The Pathways program began in 2007 with a group of pre-service teachers in the UTA bilingual education program who volunteered their time to work with students in the Arlington Independent School District. In 2009, the program secured THECB funding to expand “GO Center” storefronts for early college information and advice, in high schools. UTA students representing a variety of undergraduate majors serve as GO Center staff, often mentoring prospective college students from their own high schools.

To date, UTA GO Centers are supported by more than $2.4 million in external grants and assist high school students and their families with college admissions and financial aid application information and academic tutoring in key subject areas. UTA GO Centers served 10,620 students and parents during the 2014-15 academic year.

College of Education Dean Jeanne Gerlach said, “Dr. Amaro-Jiménez has channeled her passion for making sure that first-generation high schools students and others who may never have considered a college education know that an undergraduate degree is within reach and can place them on a path to future success. We are pleased that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has recognized the impact that she and her students are making to help more Texans pursue their college education.”

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.