Graduates of HISD’s EMERGE program reflected on their first semester of college and learned how to begin a summer internship search during a “homecoming” event held especially for them on Jan. 6. The EMERGE Scholar Homecoming, which took place at the University of Houston, reunited students who came home for the winter break from colleges such as Columbia University, Oberlin College, Smith College, and Yale University.
The district launched the EMERGE program three years ago to prepare students to attend top-tier colleges. Participants attend admissions workshops, complete PSAT and SAT preparation courses, visit out-of-state colleges, and receive mentoring from graduates of top-tier colleges. Today, there are almost 80 graduates from HISD’s Emerge program.
“In EMERGE, we’re focused on getting students to top colleges, but the other half of that is preparing them to graduate,” said EMERGE Academic Program Manager Danny Rojas. “We want to connect the students with the right resources to help them stay on track.”
During the program, the students participated in an internship workshop led by EMERGE program managers, in which they received networking tips and reviewed examples of resumes and cover letters. The students were encouraged to visit their college career centers and attend job fairs on campus to learn about different types of professions and to practice networking with career professionals. Afterward, the students were treated to pizza and a few games of bowling.
“It’s starting to get to that time where some of us really have to start thinking about what we want to do after college,” said Juan Garcia, a Chavez High School alumnus now attending Oberlin. “I’m working on reforming my resume and cover letter right now, and it’s getting better. I also just updated my LinkedIn account.”
HISD high school students currently in the program were also invited to the event to chat with graduates about their college experiences.
EMERGE recently selected over 150 HISD high school students to join the program, bringing its total amount of participants to more than 400 students from 30 different high schools. The new EMERGE students will participate in an orientation session on Saturday, Jan. 10, at Rice University.