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TRIO Talent Search expands into Willacy County; continues in Edinburg and Brownsville

The UTRGV Office of Student Educational Outreach announced receipt of three five-year U.S. Department of Education TRIO Talent Search grants. Two of the grants are renewals – Talent Search Edinburg and Talent Search Brownsville. The third is a new grant expanding Talent Search to Willacy County, to include the independent school districts of Lasara, Lyford and Raymondville. (Courtesy photo)

By Cheryl Taylor

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – AUG. 19, 2016 – The Office of Student Educational Outreach at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has announced receipt of three five-year U.S. Department of Education TRIO Talent Search grants.

Two of the grants are renewals – Talent Search Edinburg and Talent Search Brownsville. The third is a new grant expanding Talent Search to Willacy County, to include the independent school districts of Lasara, Lyford and Raymondville.

“This extremely competitive grant will continue the success of Talent Search, providing a path to post-secondary education opportunities for many of the target area students, now including our rural, economically challenged areas that need our support,” said Dr. Beatriz Becerra-Barckholtz, executive director of College Access Outreach Programs.

The purpose of Talent Search is to identify and assist pre-college students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education.

Talent Search college readiness specialists are based in participating middle and high schools to provide students with information, guidance and advice regarding academic, career and financial counseling. Advisors are regularly on-site, encouraging students to graduate from high school and continue on to, and complete, postsecondary education.

Rina Hernandez joined Talent Search in sixth grade at Brownsville’s Stillman Middle School, and Ahtzari Saldivar became a Talent Search student starting in ninth grade at Brownsville’s Veterans Memorial Early College High School, where both girls just graduated in June this year.

“We had Talent Search meetings at least once a month with the Talent Search counselor assigned to our school,” said Saldivar, who is eager to start her freshman year at UTRGV. “We learned about applying to college, tests that we needed to take to apply, financial aid, scholarships, and all sorts of information to make sure we would be ready to continue our education.”

Every year, Talent Search takes its rising seniors on a tour of Texas colleges, always a highlight among the students.

“Without going around and touring schools in Texas cities, I wouldn’t have known about the other universities outside of Brownsville,” said Hernandez, who has accepted a scholarship to study communications at Incarnate Word University in San Antonio.

Alan Morales, a 2015 Talent Search graduate of La Joya Independent School District’s Palmview High School, completed his freshman year at UTRGV and is transferring to Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana, on a soccer scholarship.

“I’m the oldest child, the first to go to college, and I had nobody older than me who knew anything about financial aid or majors. When the topic came up, I was lost,” Morales said. “The Talent Search counselor at my school really helped me is so many ways, explaining about all the steps to take to get into college. And learning about time management was a big help to me.”

The three UTRGV Talent Search programs include:

  • Now in its 35th year, Talent Search Edinburg serves 905 students annually, including students from the high schools in the independent school districts of Edcouch-Elsa, Mission, La Joya, Juarez-Lincoln and Palmview. Over the five-year grant period (Sept. 1, 2016 – Aug., 31, 2021), this program will receive $2,172,000. 
  • Now in its 22nd year, Talent Search Brownsville serves 680 students annually, including students from the six Brownsville Independent School District high schools: Hanna, Lopez, Pace, Porter, Rivera and Veterans. It also includes the 11 BISD middle schools: Besteiro, Cummings, Faulk, Garcia, Lucio, Manzano, Oliveira, Perkins, Stell, Stillman and Vela. Over the five-year grant period, this program will receive $1,459,295.
  • The new Willacy County Talent Search will serve 500 students annually, including students from the high schools and middle schools in the independent school districts of Raymondville, Lyford and Lasara. Over the five-year grant period, this program will receive $1,200,000. 

“I wish to congratulate UTRGV for competing to win these three TRIO Talent Search grant awards,” said Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), a ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “This funding will reach underserved high school students throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Our nation must continue to encourage all students to prepare for college and careers.”  

ABOUT TALENT SEARCH AND TRIO 

Talent Search is a TRIO Program funded through the U.S. Department of Education. TRIO (not an acronym) was named accordingly for its first three programs, which were created out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Those acts of the U.S. Congress created Upward Bound (UB), Talent Search (TS) and Student Support Services (SSS), respectively, which formed a trio of federal programs designed to foster increased educational opportunity and attainment.

Over the years, TRIO programs have been expanded to provide a wider range of services. Today, nine programs are included under the TRIO umbrella, seven of which provide direct services to students.

“TRIO programs, particularly Talent Search, allow us to help hundreds of our students in our communities by providing them an opportunity to continue their education and become successful – not only an investment for them, but also an investment in the future of our region’s economic stability,” Becerra-Barckholtz said.

PHOTO GALLERIES

Talent Search college tour

Talent Search Senior Survival workshop 

MEDIA CONTACTS

Cheryl.Taylor@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Senior Writer / 956-882-8787 

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742