Category Archives: EMERGE

HISD names EMERGE founder Rick Cruz chief of strategy and innovation

Rick Cruz, the founder of the successful EMERGE program and HISD’s officer of college and career readiness, has been named as HISD’s new chief of strategy and innovation.

“In his 10 years at HISD, Dr. Cruz has proven his commitment to helping students from underserved communities succeed through his work with the EMERGE program and college and career readiness,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “He is the right person to lead our strategic and innovative thinking about supporting our underserved communities.”

Cruz left a career at Baker Botts in 2008 to join HISD as a bilingual fifth-grade teacher at Moreno Elementary School, where he was twice named Teacher of the Year. He joined HISD’s central leadership team in 2013 as an assistant superintendent over expansion of the EMERGE program, which he founded in 2010, and he also served as officer and chief officer of major projects before his current role as officer of college and career readiness. In all of these roles, Dr. Cruz has implemented districtwide initiatives focused on ensuring that all students graduate college and career ready. Continue reading

Lamar HS senior’s story of 20 college acceptances goes viral 

Micheal Brown received his first college acceptance in November, and after that, they just kept rolling in—20 in all, including all eight Ivy League schools and 12 other top-tier universities across the country.

When word got out that not only did Brown get accepted, but he got a full ride to all of them, the story went viral. The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, CNN, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, local TV stations, and news outlets in Atlanta, San Diego, and Seattle are just a few that ran the story. Lamar Principal James McSwain said that for the past few days, he has been Brown’s press agent, fielding calls and even holding a press conference at the high school.

Brown leaves in a few days for Stanford University, which has been his top pick since middle school. Now, however, he is not so sure, so he is going to try to visit his top seven schools before making a final decision by May 1. The Lamar senior’s mother, Berthinia Rutledge-Brown, hopes he picks Stanford, but she will support him no matter what, just as she has his entire life. Brown is her only child, so it will be bittersweet when he leaves for college.   Continue reading

Graduating EMERGE seniors to be honored at annual celebration 

There are 252 EMERGE seniors graduating in May and heading off to colleges and universities around the country, and they’re on track to receive more than $36 million in scholarships and grants.

This year, students have been accepted to schools such as Harvard University, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Scripps College, Amherst College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University, St. John’s University-New York, and Johns Hopkins University.  Continue reading

EMERGE program now accepting applications from HISD sophomores 

Applications are now available for sophomores who would like to join the highly successful EMERGE program, and motivated members of the Class of 2019 are encouraged to apply.

EMERGE connects high-performing students from underserved backgrounds with the resources needed to apply, attend, and graduate from the nation’s top-tier colleges and universities, usually at no cost to the student’s family.

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EMERGE fellows get first-hand look at college life

Students tour over a dozen top-tier campuses in south and northeast

Nearly 200 students from high schools throughout HISD are getting a first-hand look at top-tier colleges in the south and northeast as part of the district’s EMERGE summer tours.

Ninety rising seniors are visiting schools in North Carolina and Virginia this week, while 75 rising sophomores are spending time in Massachusetts. The tours are designed to expose students in EMERGE, a program made up of high-performing students from underserved backgrounds, to colleges and universities outside of Texas, as well as opportunities to help them make the most informed decision in their pursuit of higher education.

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HISD student to be honored as U.S. Presidential Scholar in Washington, D.C.

Student also one of 16 HISD students to win National Merit Scholarship

A Houston Independent School District high school student hopes to have the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama this summer after being selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Liana Wang

Liana Wang

Liana Wang of Bellaire High School is among only 160 high school seniors from across the country to be recognized in the 52nd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars for her leadership, academic accomplishments, and service to the community.

“I am pretty excited to be a part of an amazing group of scholars, and I’ve heard that sometimes presidential scholars get to meet the president,” Wang said. “I would love to intern at the White House and work in the state department one day to help contribute to the culture of an administration and its policy decisions.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars will be recognized and presented with a Presidential Scholar Medallion during a special ceremony held June 19 in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Rick Cruz selected to serve as HISD’s new Chief of Major Projects

Richard (Rick) Cruz poses for a photograph, January 6, 2016.

Richard (Rick) Cruz poses for a photograph, January 6, 2016.

Houston Independent School District Major Projects Officer Rick Cruz has been selected to lead his division, replacing outgoing Chief Don Hare, who is retiring.

Cruz, a former fifth-grade teacher who was tapped to serve in the HISD administration after launching the district’s successful EMERGE program more than five years ago, will officially assume his new role on Jan. 25.

In his new position, he will be tasked with managing the College Readiness and Counseling and Guidance departments, as well as major initiatives designed to transform education in the district, such as the EMERGE and Futures Academy programs, and Linked Learning.

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Students make the most of Top-Tier College Night

HISD hosted its annual Top-Tier College Night on Oct. 6, and hundreds of students and their families came out to learn more about what Ivy League and other high-profile institutions have to offer, as well as what qualities they are looking for in applicants.

“Some of our students have amazing grades, and some don’t,” explained Justin Segal, a representative from the University of Pennsylvania. “But comparing yourself to others is not really fair, because grades don’t tell the whole story. We’re more focused on if your application is consistent with your stated interests. Because if you’re applying to business school, but all you’ve done so far is arts and theatre, there’s a bit of a disconnect there.” Continue reading

EMERGE program now accepting applications from Class of 2018

HISD’s ground-breaking EMERGE program is expanding to all high school campuses this year, and motivated members of the Class of 2018 (currently sophomores) are encouraged to apply.

EMERGE connects high-performing students from underserved backgrounds with the resources needed to apply, attend, and graduate from the nation’s top-tier colleges and universities, which provide high levels of support as well as competitive financial aid and scholarships. Students who are selected to be in EMERGE receive after-school advising at their schools on the college preparation and financial aid application processes, a full-length SAT preparation course, and an out-of-state summer experience at a top-tier university. Continue reading

Class of 2015 beats previous year’s scholarship offers by $10 million

Several HISD schools saw significant increases in the amount of scholarship and financial aid offers their seniors received this year. Recent HAIS graduates Karina Barbosa (left) and Rynique Lucas received more than $1.7M between them.

Several HISD schools saw significant increases in the amount of scholarship and financial aid offers their seniors received this year. Recent HAIS graduates Karina Barbosa (left) and Rynique Lucas received more than $1.7M in scholarship and financial aid offers between them.

The numbers are in, and HISD’s Class of 2015 has received almost $265 million in scholarship and financial aid offers.

At $10 million more than the Class of 2014, Director of College Readiness David Johnston called the figure “a testament to the district’s college readiness efforts.” A handful of campuses have also seen significant increases in the amount of money their seniors have been offered from last year to this one.

College Success Manager Pamela Joyce Williams attributes Washington High School’s jump from about $2,360,000 in 2014 to more than $7,223,000 in 2015 to a year-long outreach campaign, in which she sent students and their parents regular progress reports and email reminders about deadlines through Naviance. Continue reading