HISD EMERGE students spend summer visiting nation’s top colleges

College campus visits are an essential part of choosing the right school for higher learning. For HISD students in the EMERGE program, that means a summer vacation full of stops to some of the best universities across the nation for free.

EMERGE helps assist economically disadvantaged families by removing barriers and creating systems to ensure students have the necessary information, tools, and support to apply to top colleges. This summer, HISD sophomores and juniors in the program got to travel to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, and California for the opportunity to tour several prestigious campuses as part of the EMERGE College Trip Experience.

“I feel empowered and very grateful to have an experience and opportunity like this to visit colleges outside of Texas,” said Lamar High School junior Amya Washington. “Before our trip, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go for college but now, I want to attend the University of Pennsylvania.”

According to EMERGE, the week-long trips are designed to increase students’ exposure to out-of-state schools, increase student investment into the selective application process, and build community and connection.

“The students have the opportunity to live on site, learn on site, eat on site, and simply immerse themselves into the college experience,” said Director of Access Initiatives Ashley Long.

About 90% of the program’s students are the first in their family to graduate from a four-year college or university.

“We understand that many of our families have different economic statuses in terms of challenges,” said Long. “We wanted to remove that barrier, so the program is free of charge for our students. We pay for housing, transportation, and all their meals.”

According to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, only 25% of high-achieving students from low-income communities in the U.S. apply to the nation’s most selective colleges and universities. EMERGE’s goal is for every graduating senior in their program to be one of the most competitive colleges applicants in the country.

The program also assists students with completing college applications, financial aid packages and scholarship applications.

“We know that it is critical for our students to have the proper guidance throughout the admission process and gain firsthand experience by seeing for themselves what we’re talking about when we talk about selective colleges.”

Since 2010, EMERGE has helped hundreds of students receive full-ride scholarships to attend ivy league schools such as Yale, Rice, Harvard, Stanford University, and more.  

To learn more about EMERGE, click here.

2023 EMERGE College Trip Experience Featured Schools

California: Scripps College, Pitzer College, Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Occidental College, University of California

Connecticut: Wesleyan University, Barnard College, Columbia University, Trinity College, Connecticut College

Pennsylvania: Haverford College, Lehigh University, University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Franklin & Marshall College

Massachusetts: Brandeis University, Harvard University, Wellesley College, Boston University, Tufts University

New York: Colgate University, Cornell University, University of Rochester, Union College, Skidmore College

Ohio: Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Denison University, Case Western Reserve University