A University of Texas at Arlington associate professor has received a state grant that will support hiring mentors to guide and encourage students in the Pathways Program at local GO Centers.
Carla Amaro-Jiménez, associate professor in the College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction and director of the Pathways to College Access and Career Readiness Program, was awarded a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board grant to support the effort.
The 2018-19 Texas College Work-Study Mentorship grant is worth $140,406.
The Pathways Program serves the Arlington, Grand Prairie, Fort Worth, Mansfield, Burleson, Everman, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw and Grapevine/Colleyville school districts, and has been in place for nearly 10 years. More than 41,000 students were served in the last seven years. The GO Centers are located on public school campuses and serve as a places to introduce those public school students to what is necessary to pursue a college education.
The program supports college access and career readiness for high school students, parent outreach and early college experiences. Pathways places college students from all classifications and majors in high schools and provides these students with academic tutoring and mentoring, assistance with the application process, and hands-on opportunities to apply for financial aid and scholarships. The mentors also help school counselors promote a college-going culture in as many as 24 local high schools.
"The mentors hired are an invaluable source of information for the students served. Though highly trained on processes and key milestones, the mentors also draw on their own experiences - many of them as the first in their families to go to college - as they guide students and families through the college selection, application and admittance process," Amaro-Jiménez said.
Though the majority of the students served select college as their plan after high school, the mentors also provide support for students who want to look for employment and/or join the Armed Forces.
More than 250 mentors have worked for the Pathways program since its inception, including 27 in the 2017-18 academic year.
Dariela Gonzalez is a GO Center mentor for the Pathways Program.
"Sometimes I will have students come in and freak out because they know what they want to do after high school but have no idea where to start," Gonzalez said. "The program has been really beneficial to students who take advantage of it because it helps them to not be as stressed trying to get all the information needed for post-graduation.
She said the students using the GO Center come from different backgrounds.
"Some, for example, have been told all their life that college is not a possibility, so giving them the information they need to know that college can be a possibility goes to show how the students' lives are impacted by the program."
Gabriel Escobedo, a former GO Center mentor and now a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, spent four years in the Pathways Program.
He has come full circle because as an Arlington Seguin High School student, Escobedo used the GO Center. That exposure peaked his interest in UTA, where he received a 2014 bachelor's degree in anthropology with Honors and Summa Cum Laude.
"During that time I learned more about myself and passed what I knew to the students I served," Escobedo said. "I had access to many resources that I could use to continue my own education. I learned to selflessly help others by working with students. From that I learned to be a role model and strive for success in all its forms so that those who will quickly follow would have a path to walk."
Escobedo had a full college experience at UTA but the GO Center was different. "The GO Center was my other home," Escobedo said. "It was my metropolis where I felt that everyone who entered through that door was someone who could use a hero to help them. The program gave me the cape I needed to fly and lift them up. Over the years I have helped hundreds of students go to college with scholarships. Many of my former students still contact me for aid and some even invited me to their college graduation."