Home Schools South Side colleges boost digital-age educational opportunities 

South Side colleges boost digital-age educational opportunities 

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Texas A&M University-San Antonio, welcoming students to a new academic year, is launching one collaborative program to help bridge the local digital divide, and another program to better prepare women students for tech careers. Courtesy photo/TAMUSA

A South Side college is extending a helping hand to first-time students, while a neighboring university is doing its part to expand the local high- technology talent pipeline. 

Palo Alto College is starting the fall semester by launching the PAC Advantage Program, designed to empower first-time students with a personalized “student success team” from the beginning. 

College officials said such resources can act as a support system to help build a strong foundation for collegiate success. 

“Our goal has always been that our students leave Palo Alto College with the knowledge and experience to enter high-wage, high-demand careers that will lead to upward mobility,” said PAC President Robert Garza.

“We are excited to provide first-time college students with an advantage through personalized coaching and long-term goal-setting during their time at Palo Alto College.” 

FIRST-TIME COLLEGE STUDENTS WHO FULFILL A “COMMIT TO COMPLETE” FORM CAN RECEIVE THE FOLLOWING SERVICES UNDER THE PAC ADVANTAGES PROGRAM: 

• Assigned a certified enrollment coach to assist in the admissions process 

• Assigned a certified advisor to support degree completion 

• A dedicated certified career navigator by career path 

• An assigned tutor liaison

• A free laptop-loaner program for students who choose Palo Alto as their home school and are enrolled in the fall 2021 semester with at least six hours 

• $200 supplemental grant for books and instructional materials 

• Access to free additional resources including child care, clothes closet, personal counseling and food pantry Visit http://alamo.edu/pac/advantage or call 210-486-3100 for details.

Meanwhile, Texas A&M University-San Antonio is collaborating with the San Antonio Independent School District on the Digital Inclusion Scholars Program, and a technology help desk, to assist in closing the local digital divide. 

Students tapped for the scholars program are being trained and mentored by TAMUSA help-desk professionals to deliver reliable, home-based broadband Internet access and support. 

One out of four San Antonio households have no internet access, according to the Digital Inclusion Alliance, a figure that is amplified across the South Side. 

The help desk is part of the Connected Beyond the Classroom project established with several local school districts and neighborhoods. 

Officials from TAMUSA and SAISD said they hope this initiative will also help create a talent pipeline for careers
in information technology services by bolstering problem-solving skills sought by many tech-centric employers. 

“These programs will be necessary to addressing future scenarios, as qualifying students will also be able to receive online instruction should changes in safety and health conditions require that,” said Carl Sheperis, the university’s dean of the College of Education and Human Development. 

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez added: “We are excited to be partnering with A&M-San Antonio and the city of San Antonio in the Connected Beyond the Classroom project as we influence the future of digital literacy and career paths.” 

Additionally, TAMUSA announced it was receiving a $255,000 grant to support its Texas Two-Step for Increasing Women in Technology program. 

The program is one of 18 workforce skills training and job-placement initiatives from across the state chosen as part of $5.5 million in Texas Talent Connection grants awarded by the Texas Workforce Investment Council in Gov. Greg Abbott’s Economic Development and Tourism division. 

THE TEXAS TWO-STEP PROGRAM INVOLVES: 

• Providing participants with tools to help them focus on career development and financial wellness 

• Offering technical training through online modules in asset security, communication and network security, identity and access management, and security engineering and operations, and network certification.

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