California trip provides EMERGE students glimpse of tier-one college life

Rising juniors from schools throughout HISD tour seven colleges in five days

More than 75 rising juniors from high schools throughout HISD traveled to California during the week of June 15 to tour several tier-one colleges and universities, and learn more about the college application process. The group of students from HISD’s EMERGE program toured seven colleges in five days including the University of Southern California, Occidental College, and the Claremont Consortium, which is a cluster of private colleges that specializes in liberal arts, sciences, and engineering. Read below to learn more from several EMERGE students who were on the trip.

 (Houston Independent School District)Brittany Ramirez, Reagan High School

On the first day of the trip to California, I was really hesitant, because I felt like I couldn’t consider a college outside of Texas, and I didn’t want to think about the possibility of leaving home. As time passed, especially when we visited Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna colleges, I learned that I can feel at home away from home, because these schools have ways to support first-generation college students. I was especially moved by Angelica Ivarra, a dean from Harvey Mudd, who explained to me that I have every reason to go to a great college. She said that I shouldn’t feel bad about it or have what is called “imposter syndrome,” which is when you feel like you don’t deserve the good things that happen to you. As she talked about this, I looked around the room and realized that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. As a member of EMERGE, I belong to a big family, and we are all on this journey together. We all deserve to go to a top-tier school!

 (Houston Independent School District)Daniela German, Davis High School

Before traveling to California, I wasn’t familiar with the liberal arts or in colleges that specialize in the liberal arts. Visiting the Claremont Consortium really opened my mind and changed my perspective. It not only gave me valuable insight into the types of colleges that are out there, but it also caused me to reflect about the type of person I am and what I want to become in the future. In addition, the trip made me realize that there are different types of environments at different college, depending on the size of the school, and that is something I need to take into consideration when determining whether or not a school is a good fit for me.

 (Houston Independent School District)Yemile Bazaldua, Chavez High School

The biggest lesson I learned while in California is that it is okay to be scared about the application process and college in general. I am not the only one who has doubts about being successful in college. I learned that there are student centers at the colleges that can help you if you take advantage of them. I especially liked the fact that at Pomona College, you get a freshman advisor you can go to for advice, even if you are homesick and just need to talk. It’s intimidating to go to college, but I am not alone in my fears. There are colleges out there that have support systems in place to help you be successful.

 (Houston Independent School District)Enrique Arancibia, Madison High School

EMERGE and this trip to California has really broadened my mind. It has truly given me a lesson in responsibility. I believe this was the most important lesson I learned from visiting the Claremont Consortium — that it takes personal responsibility to ensure that you choose a college that is a good fit, not someone else like your friends or parents. You have to feel connected to a school. Even though it may be difficult to get into some of the colleges we visited, I have to take the leap forward and put in the hard work and effort it takes during my junior year.

 (Houston Independent School District)Christina Dure, Energized for STEM High School

The Claremont College Consortium has five great undergraduate programs that offer many unique learning opportunities and great communities. I think the tour of Harvey Mudd College interested me the most, because it specializes in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, but it also gives students exposure to a broad range of liberal arts classes. While at Harvey Mudd, Maureen Ruiz, an admissions administrator, really opened my eyes to the involvement of STEM in our daily lives and how I as a woman and a minority can truly make a difference by pursuing my interest in math and science when I go to college.

2 thoughts on “California trip provides EMERGE students glimpse of tier-one college life

  1. Paul Bennett

    Great students plus a great program equals success. What other schools did the EMERGE students visit? Since many HISD students are minority—were their visits to Howard, Morehouse, or Spellman?

    1. HISD Communications

      I checked with the EMERGE program manager and he said that while these trips have not included historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), some of our students definitely apply to and consider HBCU and predominantly minority institutions. He also added that while we do work with predominantly low-income, under-represented minorities, we choose to focus on universities that meet 100% of demonstrated financial need of students and have high graduation rates. We assist our students extensively through the college research process, and encourage them to consider a wide variety of institutions. It is certainly possible that we’ll begin partnering with other institutions in the future as the EMERGE program expands.

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