UTEP to Award Scholarships to Accelerated Early College High School Students

What: Accelerated Early College High School Student Scholarship reception

When: 1-3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9

Where: Tomás Rivera Conference Center, Union Building East, 3rd floor

The University of Texas at El Paso will host a reception to award top early college high school students with The Greater Texas Foundation Accelerated Early College High School Student Scholarship. The scholarships are funded by a recent grant presented to the University by The Greater Texas Foundation.

The $390,000, three-year grant will help enhance the mission of UTEP’s Early College High School (ECHS) Academic Success Center, which works to make the transition to the University as successful as possible for students enrolled in area early college high school programs.

The scholarships will be awarded to students enrolled at UTEP who have graduated as accelerated students from area early college high schools. These accelerated students earned their associate degrees before completing their high school diplomas. UTEP has allowed eligible ECHS students to take classes at UTEP for up to nine college credit hours through an institutional scholarship while completing their high school degrees. The Greater Texas Foundation scholarships will support the top academic students from accelerated ECHS programs during their full-time enrollment as UTEP juniors and seniors after their high school graduation.

The funding will provide scholarships for students who entered UTEP as accelerated early college high school students and meet certain academic criteria. Students will participate in workshops that connect them to high-impact practices such as student organizations, study abroad and community service during the two years they are enrolled at UTEP.

“The early college high school idea has really changed the way I think about what our students can accomplish,” said Donna Ekal, Ph.D., associate provost at UTEP. “We have 17- and 18-year-olds taking sophomore and junior level classes at UTEP and doing very well in them. These students are focused and keen on what they want to do. When you take the ceiling off and give these students the opportunity to move forward, many of them do so. We thank the Greater Texas Foundation for supporting our students in this opportunity.”

The grant is the result of a collaborative effort between the University and the nonprofit organization Jobs for the Future, which works to ensure educational and economic opportunities for all. Nancy Hoffman, vice president and senior adviser with Jobs for the Future, visited UTEP while collecting national data on the early college high school initiative. The data collected was presented in a publication titled “Addressing the 61st Hour Challenge” that focused on the successful partnership of area independent school districts and their early college high school programs, El Paso Community College and UTEP. Hoffman and Ekal presented the report to the Greater Texas Foundation board of directors.

Foundation board members were impressed with the El Paso model and UTEP’s approach to early college high school student success and invited Ekal to submit a proposal that resulted in the grant.