McALLEN, RGV – Chris Coxon, chief program officer for Educate Texas, says his group is pleased to have provided the funding to allow qualified students within South Texas College’s Business & Technology Division to learn and earn.

“Being able to learn and earn money for college is an important strategy for increasing student persistence in college,” Coxon said. “Educate Texas is proud to support a number of initiatives in the Rio Grande Valley with grants that augment current Learn and Earn opportunities so that additional students may benefit.”

Chris Coxon, chief program officer for Educate Texas.
Chris Coxon, chief program officer for Educate Texas.

Educate Texas is public-private partnership. Its goal is to improve the public education system so that every Texas student is prepared for success in school, in the workforce, and in life.

The Educate Texas Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas provided a $10,000 Learn and Earn Grant designed to “further improve students’ success rates” while allowing them to earn $9.00 per hour in their field of study lab environment. The students worked as part-time as lab assistants during the fall 2014 semester.

“To have a hands-on learning role in the Precision Manufacturing Technology (PMT) lab while also earning a good wage and helping out other students was a great opportunity,” said PMT student Mike Banjao. “It has made me more confident and creates the kind of learning environment where everyone works together to improve.”

To qualify for the program, students working on a Career and Technical Education major within STC’s Business and Technology Division were required to have earned a minimum of 15 college hours. Preference was given to students with one year’s experience in tutoring or other work in a related educational setting.

In addition to Banjao, others on the Learn and Earn course were PMT student Diego Salinas, Design Technical Graphics Student Edward Pena, Welding Student Victor Velasquez, Fire Science Student Jorge Balderas and Automotive Student Gerardo Alvarado.

Students’ responsibilities included:
·         Assisting instructors in the design and construction of new demonstrations and exercises, teaching procedures, and curriculum.
·         Assisting students with assignments and demonstrating techniques in the use of specialized equipment.
·         Tutoring students with one-on-one attention.
·         Setting up laboratories for teaching demonstrations and exercises, distributing and arranging equipment, models, and subject matter, assisting with installation of computer hardware and software.
·         Assisting with troubleshooting and software problems.
·         Advising students regarding course objectives and requirements while instructing students on appropriate materials and equipment.
·         Assisting in coordinating laboratory schedules and helping resolve scheduling conflicts with instructors.
·         Maintaining laboratory equipment as required.
·         Ensuring security of laboratory and equipment and availability of laboratory materials for students.
·         Performing administrative and clerical duties as required.

STC Business & Technology Division Dean Mario Reyna praised the program chairs that provided positive support for their students. These include Daniel Morales, Precision Manufacturing Program Chair; Reynaldo Sanchez, Design & Building Technologies Department Chair; Victor Fonseca, Fire Science Program Chair; Roy Trevino, Automotive Program Chair; and Rick Ingram, Welding Program Chair.

“To allow students to work with our faculty in their field of study is truly a unique opportunity,” Reyna told the Rio Grande Guardian. “The program chairs and faculty mentored these students in the importance of continuing their education and provided them with hands on experience that enhanced their classroom experience. The students that participated in this program have made connections with our faculty that will help them succeed in their studies.”

Mario Reyna, dean of business and technology at South Texas College.
Mario Reyna, dean of business and technology at South Texas College.

Reyna said STC’s faculty intend to reapply and hopefully extend the grant during the fall 2015 semester due to the immense success of all involved.

Educate Texas’ partners include The Texas Education Agency; Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; Texas Workforce Commission; Office of the Governor; Texas Legislature; Communities Foundation of Texas; Ford Foundation; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Greater Texas Foundation; Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; Houston Endowment; IBM; The Kresge Foundation; Lumina Foundation; The Meadows Foundation; TG Texas Guaranteed; and Texas Instruments Foundation.

For more information regarding the Learn and Earn Grant Program, visit the Communities Foundations of Texas website at

Pictured in our top photo are, from left to right, STC Business & Technology Dean Mario Reyna, PMT Chair Daniel Morales, PMT Student Mike Banjao, PMT Student Diego Salinas, Welding Technology Student Victor Velasquez, Welding Technology Instructor Darrel Mobley, Automotive Technology Student Gerardo Alvarado, Design & Building Trades Chair Reynaldo Sanchez, Automotive Technology Chair Roy Trevino, Fire Science Student Jorge Balderas, Fire Science Chair Victor Fonseca.