"Come Home to Your University" Sets Community Center Events

Texas A&M International University will launch a new community outreach initiative next week that is aimed at bringing the University's message and mission home to its community.

Dubbed "Come Home to Your University," the initiative will take place at various recreation and community centers. University personnel will be on hand to provide information about the University, and assist attendees with financial aid applications. Entertainment will be provided by University attenders and community performance groups. All "Come Home to Your University" events are free of charge.

The first program will take place Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Cigarroa Recreation Center, located at 2201 Zacatecas.

Scheduled are bilingual presentations on the University's programs, performances by student groups including members of the University 's dance groups, presentations by University graduates and current students from the neighborhood, and a special dinner.

Dr. Charles Jennett, University president, said the "Come Home to Your University" initiative is part of an effort to close the local information gap about accessibility to higher education.

"Universities have an obligation to help our citizens become better, more knowledgeable consumers of higher education. No deserving student should be deprived of a college degree because he or she doesn't have the right information. This community outreach series is part of our effort to help to close that information gap," Jennett said.

Dr. Stephen Brown, Dean of Student Affairs, said the University simply wants to bring its message and mission home to the community it so proudly serves.

"We wanted to try and bring our University home to our community and show that a University education is within everyone's grasp...in fact, it's just around the corner," said Dr. Brown.

Additional programs are scheduled as follows:

January 28 - K. Tarver Recreation Center, 2902 Tilden, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

February 23 - Northeast Hillside Recreation Center, 320 Wyoming, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

February 24 - Farias Recreation Center, 1601 Farias, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Brown said the effort is part of the University's exclusive participation in the national "College is Possible Campaign," presented by the Coalition of America's Colleges and Universities.

"These programs are a key part of our participation in this campaign aimed at helping students and their families to identify and receive important information about financing a college education and realizing their career dreams through higher education. With the scholarship support and help of University partners in the public and private sectors, we can confidently say that no A&M International student is unable to attend our University because of financial barriers. Through these presentations, we hope to bring that message home," he said.

Brown said recent research indicates that while parents and students value a college education, many dramatically overestimate the price, often by as much as 200 percent. Many also underestimate the resources that are available to them to help pay for college.

"Clearly, many citizens may miss out on the opportunity for a college education because they do not have adequate information about the range of options and sources of help. Sadly, those students most at risk are minority students, families with low incomes and students whose parents did not attend college," Brown observed.

He said that a key part of the "Come Home to Your University" presentations is the provision of good news about higher education and its affordability.

"The good news today is that a four-year college or university education is an important, attainable, and affordable option. There is $60 billion in financial aid from federal, state, local, and institutional sources for students to meet educational expenses.

"Nationally, seven out of 10 full-time students qualify for financial aid - and many receive a substantial amount. Over 80 percent of A&M International students qualify for some form of financial assistance, " Brown explained.

Another event in the 'Come Home to Your University" initiative will be the February 4 presentation of A&M International's first "Annual Financial Aid Fair," which will draw students and their families from throughout the region to the University's campus to meet with lenders, discuss career options, and complete financial aid forms for enrollment at any college or university.

Brown said all the events are designed to provide participants with a full range of information that will allow them to consider all of their higher education opportunities.

"Our duty here is simply to share the information and let students have access to the information they need to make an informed decision," he concluded.

For more information on the "Come Home to Your University" initiative or community presentations, please contact Betty Momayezi, Director of Enrollment Management, at 326. 2272.

University office hours are Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8 am.-5 p.m., and Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu