Texas Border Business
By Amanda Sotelo
More than 1,000 Hidalgo and Starr County dual-credit high school seniors are about to get the opportunity of a lifetime at South Texas College thanks to the college’s newly introduced STC Promise Program.
The STC’s Promise Program was announced at the college’s annual Superintendents Leadership Meeting, and is set to provide STC dual-credit students, from its 21 partnering school districts, a last-dollar scholarship, defined as money that covers tuition gaps, not paid for by federal and state grants or scholarships, that will cover 100% of their tuition and fees, beginning fall 2023.
STC Dean for Dual Credit Programs and School District Partnerships Rebecca De Leon, Ed.D., said this is an exciting moment for STC and its partnering school districts because this program will provide the financial assistance families need to help their children pursue a higher education.
“On average, about 23% of our dual credit students continue their education at STC, where on average we have about 5,000 who graduate with dual credit hours,” she said. “What we’re focusing on with this Promise Program are the students who are on track with their selected pathway, but have not completed an STC credential while in high school. We want to ensure that these students have the opportunity to continue at STC and become a college graduate with a certificate or associate degree.”
At least $1 million dollars has been invested into creating STC’s Promise Program and Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Economic Development Rodney Rodriguez, Ph.D., said it could not be possible without partnering organizations such as Greater Texas Foundation, Economic Mobility Systems and Educate Texas.
“STC has been in the forefront of making this a reality,” said Rodriguez. “And to be on the receiving end of the Greater Texas Foundation Grant, the STC Promise Program has finally become reality. A thank you goes to our partners, our internal leadership and all our supporters. None of it would have been possible without them.”
STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D., said this is all a result of collaboration.
“The work we do with our school districts and other colleges and universities is what reinforces our success,” said Solis. “It is because of strong partnerships that we are able to move this region forward and upward and change lives.”
Economic Mobility Systems Executive Director Eric Ban, Ph.D., said his organization works to make socioeconomic mobility possible by empowering students and those who serve them on their college-to-career journey, and partnering with STC fulfills that mission.
“The promise initiative is about giving students an affordable college path,” said Ban. “STC has a vision, promise and we helped get that funded. We set out to nurture STC and get dollars in this region to help people dream, prepare, enroll, complete and earn.”
For nearly a decade, Educate Texas has been a steadfast STC partner and Managing Director Chris Coxon said he applauds the partnership STC has with his organization, the new ones the college has formed and how these collaborations are transforming regions.
“To see the impact that this work is having across the state is amazing, and for it to be introduced in the Valley because of this college’s leadership and innovation is going to accelerate this region,” said Coxon. “This is going to build our community and build families.”
Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District Superintendent Greg Rodriguez, Ph.D. mentioned that STC’s Promise Program is going to remove economic barriers for many of his students and their families.
“This is going to help create an outlet of opportunities,” he said. “This is wonderful, it is a game changer and can lead to bigger and better things. This is going to change the trajectory for many of our students, their families and our city.”
De Leon added that although the Promise Program is currently only for seniors with dual credit from the college, STC is working toward expanding the program.
“This is for our dual credit students who are seeking the opportunity to complete their credential, which will lead them towards furthering their higher education or entering the workforce,” said De Leon. “But, this is just the beginning and we’re looking forward to expanding the program for years to come.”