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UTRGV’s Holmes Cadets present research at Florida conference

UTRGV Holmes Cadets in March attended the 69th annual Holmes Conference, held by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Tampa, Fla. The students are, from left, Tiffany Johnson, Karla Gutierrez, Aylie Moya, Sara Rodriguez and James Kazen. (Courtesy Photo)

UTRGV Holmes Cadets in March attended the 69th annual Holmes Conference, held by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Tampa, Fla. The students are, from left, Tiffany Johnson, Karla Gutierrez, Aylie Moya, Sara Rodriguez and James Kazen. (Courtesy Photo)  

By Vicky Brito

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – MAY 18, 2017 – UTRGV Holmes Cadets in March attended the 69th annual Holmes Conference at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Tampa, Fla. 

The Holmes Cadets (HC) is a program within the UTRGV College of Education and P-16 Integration in partnership with South Texas Independent School District’s Business, Education, and Technology Academy (BETA) that is associated with the AACTE Holmes program. The five BETA students who attended the Holmes conference – Tiffany Johnson, Karla Gutierrez, James Kazen, Aylie Moya and Sara Rodriguez – participated in a research poster session along with doctoral and masters students from across the country.

Their poster, titled “Barriers: From the Border Wall to the Classroom Wall,” emphasized the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity in the classroom. The project utilized a participatory action research methodology.

“The process of participatory action research is a liberating experience because it places the community members, in this case, high school students, in a position to engage as researchers,” said Dr. Alcione Ostorga, associate professor of bilingual and literacy studies and coordinator of the Holmes Education Cadets program at UTRGV.

The collaboration between UTRGV and South Texas BETA through the Holmes Cadets Program allows pre-collegiate students on the education tract to enroll in concurrent courses at the university and to participate in professional development activities, with the goal of better preparing them for an exemplary career in K-12 education. Dr. Ostorga said the conference and the poster are ways to fulfill this goal. 

“The students were able to explore issues by beginning with their own perspectives and their own areas of concern, and then exploring how these areas of concern connect with education issues at a national level,” Dr. Ostorga said.

BETA STUDENTS RFLECT ON HC EXPERIENCE

The program, designed as an early pathway to the teaching profession, works with students like Aylie Moya.

“Taking part in the Holmes program has helped me confirm that this is my chosen field,” she said.

Student Sara Rodriguez had a similar reaction to the program.

“This profoundly life-changing experience allowed me to not only find my own voice ... I know that I am exactly where I should be,” she said.

BETA junior James Kazen said that when he saw the opportunity to be a Holmes Cadet, “I jumped at it, and through that journey I changed drastically.”

And student Karla Gutierrez commented in the program’s blog: “I am ready to be the change maker for the future and for today, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity the Holmes Cadets program has given me.”

Senior Tiffany Johnson said leaving her public school to attend BETA was a challenge, but she has gained valuable experience at BETA so college doesn’t seem as challenging. 

“Leaving high school was a persistent stress that I felt during my senior year,” she said. “After attending the AACTE conference in Tampa, I can confidently say that I am ready to leave the nest and explore the realm of college. 

“During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet with many officials from AACTE and the Holmes program. They reassured me that, with their help, I won’t have to face college alone,” she said.

Dr. Patricia A. McHatton, dean of the UTRGV College of Education and P-16 Integration, said the college is committed to preparing highly effective teachers who will remain in the field.  

“Over the past decade, the number of individuals entering the teaching profession has dwindled,” she said. “The Holmes Cadets program in one way to nurture and support those students who express an interest in education. By providing these students opportunities to connect with faculty within our college and on a national level, we demonstrate the value of a quality educator in ensuring positive outcomes for all of our students. “

MEDIA CONTACTS

Victoria.Brito@utrgv.edu
Informational Writer / 956-882-4330  

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