MCALLEN, RGV – South Texas College will host its 13th annual Summit on College and Career Readiness on Monday, Apr. 9.

South Texas College (STC) first premiered the summit in 2006. According to STC’s press release, the Summit provides a forum for public school, private school and higher education professionals to engage in a dialogue on closing the achievement gap in college readiness for high school graduates.

“If the Rio Grande Valley is to attract high wage and high skill jobs, the education attainment level of the region must be increased,” Dr. Shirley Reed, president of STC said in the press release. “This is why South Texas College is committed to working with education profession also promote a college-going culture for this region.”

Rose Benavidez, STC board trustee, says the summit also allows STC to continue building partnerships with local Independent School Districts (ISDs) to ensure dual enrollment is working properly in terms of rigor.

“The summit also ensures the programming is aligned with what the industry requires,” Benavidez said. “It gives us a chance to make certain that everyone that we work with has an opportunity to take care of our facilities, to take advantage of our instructors, and most importantly take advantage of the knowledge that the college can bring to expand opportunities in the ISDs.”

There are about 330 people enrolled in this year’s Summit on College and Career Readiness. The attendees will include a variety of STC as well as UTRGV faculty, public school educators and counselors. The summit will feature guest speakers from across the nation to share their data and experiences as well as 21 breakout sessions on different topics.

“Our speakers are going to talk about some of the challenges of helping students be academically ready for college,” Reed said. “Those challenges are reading, writing and math, so we want to share best practices [and] learn from each other. We want to hear about the needs of the workforce–what are employers looking for in our graduates [and] how can we provide stronger graduates?”

Luzelma Canales, former STC faculty and current executive director for RGV Focus, helped launch the first summit in 2006 and says throughout the years, the summit has resulted in the Rio Grande Valley being more open to sharing and discussing data, acknowledging issues and moving towards a positive outcome.

“The summit gives people the opportunity to see programs and strategies that work, including dual credit and dropout recovery during the breakout sessions and be able to scale them out,” Canales said. “When Dr. Reed and I began this summit in 2006, one of the main reasons we did it was not only to share data and acknowledge our issues, but really begin to share with people what we believe works so that we can do more.”

Benavidez says STC and the Valley continue to be an example of what everyone in the United States wants to replicate.

“They come down here to share some data, but really they come down here to steal some ideas about how they can do this in their colleges and we always are open to do that,” Benavidez said. “We share many of the programs to replicate because we know that as our state does better then so does our country. But more importantly it gives us more opportunities as well.”