BusinessEducationTexas Community Colleges Rewarded for Excellence

Texas Community Colleges Rewarded for Excellence

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San Antonio College (SAC) is the 2021 recipient of what’s been called the “Oscars” for outstanding achievement by a community college, and the reason is its commitment to students who often have a tough time staying in school.

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is given every two years.

Dr. Robert Vela, president of SAC, said the 95-year-old institution is focused on serving people from its immediate environment in some of the country’s most impoverished ZIP Codes, with low rates of degree attainment and high rates of unemployment.

“It’s very difficult for a large urban institution to achieve excellence and to achieve this kind of success,” Vela contended. “So we ensure that we are preparing students to be successful, in the workforce or at a university setting.”

SAC will receive $600,000 for its first-place achievement in areas that include certificate and degree completion, workforce success and equity for students of color and low-income backgrounds. Amarillo College, Odessa College and San Jacinto College also received recognition.

Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, said it’s a testament to the state’s investment in improving community colleges that four of the 10 finalists are in the Lone Star State.

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“We are looking at which colleges are achieving the highest and fastest improving and most equitable,” Wyner explained. “And that’s really a testament to the hard work that’s been done by so many entities within the state of Texas.”

Vela pointed out in the past, many would-be students avoided community college if they could afford a four-year institution, but since President Joe Biden promoted them within the American Families Plan, Vela believes many people are taking a second look.

“It provides options for you,” Vela observed. “And for so many years, we have been coined as ‘you’re settling.’ But given our environment, given our economic kind-of position that we are all in, it’s actually a very smart move to make, financially.”

Two-thirds of students at SAC are Hispanic, Black or Native American. Vela added 52% of students who enroll either graduate or transfer within three years, compared to the national average of 46%.

En 2021, San Antonio College recibio lo que se ha llamado los “Oscar” por logros sobresalientes como colegio comunitario, gracias a su compromiso para con los estudiantes que a menudo tienen dificultades para permanecer en la escuela.

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El Premio Aspen a la excelencia de colegios comunitarios se otorga cada dos anos.

El presidente de San Antonio College, Robert Vela, dice que la institucion de 95 anos se enfoca en atender a personas de su entorno inmediato, en algunos de los codigos postales mas empobrecidos del pais, con bajo porcentaje de obtencion de titulos y altas tasas de desempleo.

“Es muy dificil para una institucion urbana lograr la excelencia y lograr este tipo de exito,” dice Vela. “Por lo que nos aseguramos en preparar a los estudiantes para que triunfen en la fuerza laboral o en el entorno universitario.”

San Antonio College recibira 600 mil dolares por su logro de primer lugar en areas que incluyen la finalizacion de certificados y titulos, exito en la fuerza laboral y equidad para estudiantes de color y de bajos ingresos.

Amarillo College, Odessa College y San Jacinto College tambien recibieron reconocimiento.

John Wyner, del programa de premios Aspen, dice que es una prueba de la inversion por parte del estado en la mejora de colegios comunitarios, que cuatro de los 10 finalistas esten en el estado de Lone Star.

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“Estamos viendo que las universidades estan logrando mejorias rapidas y equitativas, y eso es realmente un testimonio del arduo trabajo que han realizado tantas entidades dentro del estado de Texas,” agrega Wyner.

Vela dice que en el pasado, muchos futuros estudiantes evitaban los colegios comunitarios si podian pagar una institucion de cuatro anos. Pero desde que el presidente Joe Biden los promovio dentro del Plan Familias Americanas, Vela cree que muchas personas estan dando una segunda mirada.

“Brinda opciones,” asegura Vela. “Y por tantos anos, nos han fabricado la idea de ‘te estas asentando’. Dado nuestro entorno, dado el tipo de situacion economica en la que todos estamos, en realidad es una decision muy inteligente desde el punto de vista financiero.”

Dos tercios de los estudiantes de SAC son hispanos, negros o nativos americanos. Vela agrega que de el 52 por ciento de los estudiantes inscritos, se graduan o transfieren en tres anos, en comparacion con el promedio nacional del 46 por ciento.

La Fundacion Lumina proporciono apoyo para este informe.

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