UTRGV and BISD sign Concurrent Enrollment Partnership agreement during ceremony May 6

UTRGV President Guy Bailey on Friday, May 6, 2016, met with Brownsville Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Esperanza Zendejas and students from all six BISD high schools, to officially announce the Concurrent Enrollment Partnership agreement between UTRGV and BISD.  (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

By Vicky Brito

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 6, 2016 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Brownsville Independent School District have formalized a partnership that will provide free concurrent enrollment classes for qualifying BISD “rising” juniors and seniors.

The program was signed into agreement at a press conference May 6, 2016, at the Hanna Early College High School Auditorium.

Principals and student representatives from each of the six BISD high schools were present to commemorate the occasion, and BISD Superintendent Dr. Esperanza Zendejas presented UTRGV founding President Dr. Guy Bailey with a plaque to formalize the agreement. 

“My goal as a superintendent is to find different opportunities for our students here in Brownsville,” Zendejas said. “Many people throughout the United States think Brownsville is in an isolated place, far away. Nobody knows Brownsville. But don’t kid yourself. We are making ourselves known on the map of the entire United States because we are doing great things with our students.”

This summer, rising juniors and seniors will be able to enroll in classes at UTRGV to jumpstart their college careers and earn university credits.

BISD is the only district in Texas in which every high school has Early College High School (ECHS) abilities. Last year, many BISD students completed high school with 25 to 80 college credits.

“For BISD this partnership means an expansion of the many opportunities students have. But this is a special partnership with UTRGV, because our students will be able to remain local to take the college courses that will support their postsecondary choices and goals,” she said.

Zendejas said the partnership could not have been possible without the engagement of Bailey and UTRGV administrators.

Bailey said it was an especially great honor to for him to be at the partnership announcement.

“BISD is not only the largest school district in the Valley, but also the largest feeder of new students to UTRGV,” he said.

Of the 4,000 students entering the UTRGV freshman class last year, about 520 were from Brownville ISD. That is the largest percentage from any other school district, at 12 percent.

UTRGV is all about educational opportunity, Bailey said, and about offering high-quality programs that will prepare students for great jobs.

“We’re about helping you go to school in high quality programs that give you great jobs so that you can stay here and you can make the Valley a better place to live,” Bailey said. “I have been a resident of the Valley for almost two years, it’s been the best two years of my life. UTRGV has the most exciting educational opportunity in the United States today.

“Things are going to be happening over the next few years that everyone else in the country is looking at, and looking at in a positive way. And you can be a part of that at UTRGV.”

The course offerings for high school students will focus on core curriculum.

“If they take core courses it will speed up the process of completion for our students,” he said.

Sylvia Leal, UTRGV associate vice president for Student Educational Outreach, said this opportunity allows students to have a true university experience and gain insight into university life.

“These courses are offered in an agreement with the district. We have a pathway leading to some of the courses that count also toward their high school graduation,” Leal said. “A dual enrollment experience is allowing the student to get credit for two courses – one is the high school course and one is the university course – at the same time.”

Student representatives from each campus signed a certificate to officially formalize partnership.

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