MCALLEN, RGV – South Texas College has been named among the top higher education institutions in the nation by Excelencia in Education.

The group said STC showed outstanding, evidence-based results in improving Latino student success in higher education. And the college won recognition in the Examples of Excelencia program as national winner in the Baccalaureate category for its Competency-Based Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership.

Examples of Excelencia is the only national initiative to identify and promote programs and departments at the forefront of advancing educational achievement for Latino students in higher education.

Through a comprehensive year-long process, evidence-based practices at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels in institutions of higher education and community-based organizations are recognized at the annual Celebración de Excelencia held in Washington, D.C. and cataloged in the Growing What Works Database.

These programs are also promoted through events, online communications, and in the media. Supporters include educational, business, government, and philanthropic leaders who recognize the importance of engaging Latino talent to the country’s full economic and civic strength.

This year’s Celebración de Excelencia was held in Washington D.C. on Thursday, Oct. 5. Dr. Ali Esmaeili, dean of the division of math, science and bachelor programs at STC, and Dr. Emma Miller, assistant dean of bachelor programs and program chair for the BAS Organizational Leadership Program at STC, were there to pick up awards.

Originally started in 2014, STC’s Competency-Based Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership is a first in the State of Texas. Competency-based means that students can leverage prior learning experience in order to accelerate course completion through the program.

This accelerated competency-based learning program allows for 87 percent of STC students to graduate in three years, and helps increase skills in the workforce. Of those in the program, about 92 percent are Latino. Since 2014, more than 315 students have graduated from the program.

“The students capitalize on their background, and many finish their course in two or three weeks,” said Esmaeili. “When they take another course, they can accelerate through it as well as long as they have the background knowledge. This helps the acceleration of degree attainment through this program.”

Esmaeili discussed the advantages of the educational programs on offer at STC in a recent RGG LIVE event with Rio Grande Guardian publisher Mark Hanna. A link to the video is posted at the end of this story.

“STC is based on three solid foundations, accessibility, affordability and acceleration, which is based on prior knowledge and skills. These three elements are crucial,” Esmaeili said.

“I would like to remind the community that while all the costs and fees in higher ed institutions are going up, I think the best route for our Latino students is to start here,” Dr. Esmaeili said.

“South Texas College is the best way. This is a great place to finish a Bachelor’s degree and continue with a Masters or Doctorate. We are a gateway to success for our students in the community, and we are becoming a model across the nation for other colleges in order to guide them into our process.”

Click here, here, and here to watch video testimony of students who have successfully completed the Competency-Based Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership program at STC.

Dr. Miller said STC has already begun vying for a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to convert the Technology Management program into Competency-based.

“We are currently finalizing a second competency-based program, Computer Information Technologies in collaboration with Austin Community College,” said Miller. “We have other schools that are contacting us, and asking us about our process. We are more than happy to help other schools in Texas and around the country.”

Held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, the Celebración de Excelencia drew leaders, decision-makers, and grantmakers from across the country.

Dr. Shirley Reed

“Our Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership represents the future of higher education,” said STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed. “Through the program’s competency based system, students at STC are seeing their real world experience manifest itself in the classroom, saving them precious time and money while they finish their degrees in record time.

“As this award signifies, staff and faculty at South Texas College are committed 100 times over to the success of Hispanic students in the region,” Reed said.

Every year, Examples of Excelencia identifies four evidence-based programs across the country that increase academic opportunities and improve educational outcomes for Latino students in higher education.

These four evidence-based programs encompass four categories: Associate, Baccalaureate, Graduate, and Community-Based Organization.

This year, Excelencia received over 161 nominations from 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Out of these 161 nominations, Excelencia selected 19 finalists.

All of the 19 finalists were featured at the event in Washington.

In the Baccalaureate category, there were five finalists that included: Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership, Center for English Language Acquisition and Culture (CELAC), Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program, Science-Bound, and Students Transitioning to Engaged and Motivated (STEM) Success.

LIVE: A discussion about the future of the RGV with South Texas College's Dean of Math, Science & Bachelor Programs, Dr. Ali Esmaeili.

Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Tuesday, July 11, 2017