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​TLU Awarded $100,000 from National Endowment for the Humanities

January 9, 2017

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Texas Lutheran University (TLU) is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Common Good Initiative. The funding will support ¡Sí Más!: Building Bridges with the Center For Mexican American Studies—a project designed to directly serve the surrounding community by strengthening both TLU and Seguin High School (SHS) commitments as Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Recognizing the changing demographics of the university and local schools, TLU will use the funding to position more SHS students—especially Hispanic students—to enroll at TLU and graduate.

The grant will allow TLU’s Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) and the Mexican American Studies program to develop a Summer Bridge Program for 20 SHS students beginning this year. These high school students will come to TLU to take Introduction to Mexican American Studies the summer before their junior year and Mexican American Literature the summer before their senior year. After they graduate from SHS and are admitted to TLU, they will be enrolled in a first-year Learning Community and Freshman Experience course that is paired with an English Composition I course. These course pairings are designed to provide the academic and social support many first-generation students need to ensure success in their first year of college.

Dr. Jennifer Mata, director of TLU’s CMAS, is focused on helping SHS students understand they have a place within the university through the Summer Bridge Program.

“Academia isn’t always inclusive of all people and we’re seeing more and more first-generation students coming in from bilingual, working class households,” Dr. Mata said. “We often see these students enroll, but they don’t stay. It’s very important to offer courses or experiences they can connect with their own identity and bicultural struggle. The Summer Bridge Program will open that door for them.”

Allison Pape, coordinator of secondary education at Seguin ISD, said the district is honored to be part of this program.

“We are excited about the opportunities available for many students to experience college-level courses at TLU, while also earning high school graduation credit,” Pape said. “Additionally, the grant will further develop on-campus support networks between Seguin ISD and TLU through a peer mentoring program, speaker series, and workshops designed to help students and families understand the college-going process.”

AnnaLisa Garza, director of Seguin Early College High School, said the school recognizes the need to increase the number of first-generation students enrolling in post-secondary institutions and earning a four-year degree. 

"It is our belief that the grant will not only provide methodical outreach and support for this student population, but that it will also ensure that these students successfully graduate from a four-year university," Garza said. "The ¡Sí Más! Program truly compliments the goals and vision of our Early College High School. We look forward to this unique opportunity with Texas Lutheran University and look forward to the long-term impact it will have on our students and their families."

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