MCALLEN, Texas – With the spring semester soon coming to a close, South Texas College will mark one academic year of their inaugural concurrent enrollment program with students from Mexico. 

Rebecca De Leon, dean for dual credit programs and school district partnerships at STC, said that when they were approached by schools in Reynosa seeking to enrich their curriculum through a collaboration with the college, she and her nationally-recognized team jumped at the chance.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to expand our partnerships, and so this was a great opportunity being here so close to the border, providing that opportunity for students in Mexico,” said De Leon. 

Though eager to start, De Leon says the program had to be built from scratch, with lawyers and faculty hammering out the details of international accreditation and other technical accommodations. The COVID-19 pandemic also slowed the process. But, despite the hinderances, the college finalized agreements with three Reynosa schools – Colegio Mexicano de Bachilleres, Grupo Educativo Oxford, and Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores – and welcomed their first cohort of students in August.

The small group of five students from “non-resident” partner schools took classes taught by STC professors online. Like their peers in other dual credit programs at the college, the juniors and seniors had to meet the eligibility requirements already in place, and the classes were taught in English. Through in-person and virtual meetings, STC staff guided the students as they selected their courses for each semester. De Leon says their objective is for students to complete core curriculum that will complement and pave their individual career path.

“Building that momentum is a key piece for any student,” said De Leon. “We want to make sure to provide these opportunities … The goal in mind, too, is to build that matriculation opportunity. Should these students choose – when they graduate from high school – they can go ahead and continue here at South Texas College or the university or college of their choice.”

With the international cohort successfully winding down their first year, De Leon says her department’s goal is to expand the program to about 10 to 15 students for the upcoming fall semester. Currently, STC is in talks with a fourth school in Mexico to become a “non-resident” partner, and De Leon foresees more coming forward as STC continues to develop into a bastion for binational education in the region.

“As we’ve seen our program grow and be a model across the nation, I think this is just another specific area that now we are going to pilot, which we’ve been doing this first year, and I think has been very successful,” said De Leon. “Building that key component of support … I think is providing those opportunities for students to further their education and know that higher education is an option for them.”

Editor’s Note: For more information about the South Texas College’s dual credit programs, click here.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Matthew S. Hebbard, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management at South Texas College, Timothy J. Ryder, Principal of The Oxford School (whose campus is part of Grupo Educativo Oxford) and Rebecca De Leon, dean for dual credit programs and school district partnerships at South Texas College.

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