Harlandale ISD students attend Texas A&M University – San Antonio: I'm First College Pathways Conference

A group of 50 Harlandale ISD middle school and high school students joined other students from East Central ISD and Southwest ISD to attend the first annual “I’m First College Pathways Conference” held at Texas A&M University – San Antonio on Dec. 17.

The goal of the conference is to empower immigrant, first generation and undocumented secondary students to pursue their higher education after graduating from high school. The students had the opportunity to tour the campus and attend numerous sessions, where they received useful information regarding the college admissions process, financial aid, scholarship opportunities and career exploration.

During the event, students heard from college students at various stages in their college careers during a panel presentation.

“We wanted the invited students to hear what current college students do to navigate college and the work needed to be successful at the college level,” Harlandale ISD Secondary Social Studies Instructional Coach Dr. Elizabeth Rivas said. “Harlandale ISD was the only school district to invite eight middle school students to get them excited about the idea of attending college and building relationships with their future high school counselors and ESL liaisons.”

Students learned that part of the college application is to write an essay about who they are as individuals; and in order to begin the process, the students wrote an “I am poem.”

“The poem provides sentence starters that students complete,” Rivas added. “The process results in a poem that describes who they are and what they hope to accomplish. We felt this poem would be a starting point for their college essays.”

For Rivas, this conference is important for students to attend because it is tailored to meet their specific needs.

“The students need to be aware of immigrant-friendly policies in K-12 school districts, and they need to know that there is space where regardless of their immigration status they can achieve their full potential,” Rivas concluded.

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