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STC Spring Seminar Dedicated to Empowering Latino Students & Faculty

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South Texas College hosted more than 60 participants from community colleges statewide as part of Catch the Next-Ascender’s spring seminar. The seminar led by Dr. Anna Alaniz (center), STC English faculty, covered current trends, challenges and opportunities in higher education. STC Image
South Texas College hosted more than 60 participants from community colleges statewide as part of Catch the Next-Ascender’s spring seminar. The seminar led by Dr. Anna Alaniz (center), STC English faculty, covered current trends, challenges and opportunities in higher education. STC Image
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By Joey Gomez

McALLEN, Texas – South Texas College recently trained college instructors across Texas during its first Catch the Next-Ascender Spring Seminar to implement an innovative model for students that promotes concepts like family and empathy to connect with Latino students.

More than 60 participants from five community colleges statewide attended the seminar held at STC’s Pecan Campus. The seminar was one component of a three-series slate of trainings dedicated to the empowerment of Latino students and educators.

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Participating colleges included Austin Community College, San Antonio College, Dallas College and Palo Alto College.

“Our main focus is to mainstream students and have them succeed and complete college as soon as they can,” said Anna Alaniz, Ed.D., STC English faculty and director of professional development for Catch the Next.

Alaniz said she trains professors across the state on how to implement Catch the Next-Ascender’s model for students, while STC Math instructor Mario Morin serves as the organization’s curriculum director, training mathematics instructors statewide.

“One of the reasons this program is so successful at South Texas College is because the concepts of the program are things like familia, or family, validation, teamwork, empathy and cariño, or care,” Alaniz said. “So, what we are teaching our instructors and our advisors is to treat these students as if they are family because this is how we take that extra step in making these students feel that they belong in our college. They are familia.”

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 Created in 2012, STC is one of the founding institutions for the Catch the Next-Ascender program, which has been designed to provide academic, emotional-social, and community support for Latino and other underserved community college students.

The organization provides support to students through advising, which is paired with what the organization calls “learning frameworks” that includes instruction in English and math for first year students along with mentoring, a student club, and access to paid internships for students.

Catch the Next-Ascender also provides intensive training for faculty in two and four-year institutions in Texas, which includes classroom strategies and co-curricular design with an emphasis on culturally responsive practices.  

The seminar at STC was one of three professional development seminars that enables faculty to earn five graduate credits from the University of Texas at Austin, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy.

“We believe South Texas College is the perfect location to hold an event like this. I think that the things that we want to do is for the empowerment of Latinos and there is a significant concentration of that here,” said Daniel Rodriguez, Ph.D., professor at Palo Alto College and Catch the Next-Ascender trainer. “We believe that coming here and getting ideas from STC as well as bringing our own ideas in the areas of teaching and learning in the classroom can really help us and enhance the organization. Events like this reinforce the fact that we are quick to respond to the changes of our new learners who are coming in.”

Debra McBeath, formerly Catch the Next-Ascender’s director of communications and current director of engagement says validation for students is the bedrock principle of the organization.

“We validate our students. We listen to their voices, and we want to hear their stories. We believe, truly with our hearts, that they have something to say,” McBeath said. “We believe in their ability to succeed, and we want to see that happen. That is the foundation for what we do.”

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