A total of 40 Laredo Community College students aspiring to become educators will have a distinct advantage when applying for admission to the College of Education at Texas A&M International University.
That's because the students are participating in the Community College Teaching Scholars Program, a unique initiative led by LCC and TAMIU. Under the initiative, students are prepared early for a career in education to experience a smooth transition into the University once they reach their junior year in college. They are part of a new team of teachers committed to addressing the state's growing teacher shortage.
Vowing to make a commitment to teaching when they graduate, the students signed a form stating their intent to teach during a recent gathering of educators and administrators from LCC and TAMIU held at the LCC Kazen Center.
Carol Ruíz, program director, said that the Community College Teaching Scholars Program falls under The Texas A&M University System Regents' Initiative, which encourages collaborations between System institutions and other educational entities.
Ruíz explained that a grant, furnished by the Houston Endowment and the Pew Charitable Trust, makes it possible for students in the Community College Teaching Scholars Program to receive stipends of up to $800 every semester during their first two years of college. Once they reach their junior year, they will be offered scholarships of $1,000 per year at TAMIU, she said.
"In our current group, we have students who are freshmen, sophomores, and those who will soon become juniors," said Ruíz, "In the Spring 2003 semester, we will have 13 of those students apply for admission at TAMIU."
Ruiz said the program participants follow the same curriculum as other students during their first two years of college. Once they finish their sophomore year, they receive an associate in arts degree from LCC. In their third year, their admission to TAMIU is facilitated so that they can continue with their pursuit of a bachelor's degree in education, she said.
"These students are excited about the teaching profession and dedicated to becoming quality teachers," Ruíz said, "We are delighted to introduce them to the educational community and to our local community, where qualified teachers are in great demand."
Dr. Rosa María Vida, College of Education dean at TAMIU, said the University is excited to receive new education students through the Community College Teaching Scholars Program.
"These students represent the future of education in our region and what a better place than their hometown University to obtain preparation that will help them achieve success in their chosen career," Dr. Vida said, "The students in this program truly love the teaching profession and we are proud to have them join the hard-working student population of our University."
Dr. Juan Maldonado, vice president for instruction and student development at LCC, said LCC is proud to be part of an important initiative for the region.
"The most essential benefit that we as a community stand to gain will be the ability to nurture our own home-grown teachers who will better understand our community, culture and heritage," Dr. Maldonado said, "These teachers are also more likely to serve the local educational system much longer because they are fully aware of the educational issues that impact our community."
Vida said the program also helps to further strengthen TAMIU's educational ties with LCC.
"This is a perfect example of how two institutions of higher education can work together to bring a positive force for education to our community and region. We are fortunate to count on LCC as our strong partner," Vida said.
"Laredo Community College's greatest ally is Texas A&M International University when it comes to transfer students from LCC who opt to continue their education at the university level. About 50 percent of all LCC students transfer to TAMIU. The role of the Community College Teaching Scholars Program is serving to strengthen our bond further," he said.
For further information on the Community College Teaching Scholars Program, please contact Caroline Ruíz at 721-5346 Monday through Thursday and at 326-2270 on Friday. Her office is located in the TAMIU Outreach Office on the LCC campus, University Hall, room 211. Office hours at the Outreach Office are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.