Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders has chosen 80 high school students for its annual summer program. The students, all high school juniors, will participate in a free weeklong academy where they'll work on an extensive group project, meet with policy makers, attend a college and career fair and basically learn what they'll do when the time comes to go off to college the following year.
"The target is to get the student who needs extra inspiration to get into college," says Leticia Acosta, program director in the McCombs School of Business, where Subiendo is housed. "There's a strong mentorship component as well."
Subiendo means "rising" in Spanish. Any high school junior in Texas can apply for the program. According to Acosta, 75 percent of the program's participants from the first two years have gone on to college. She's still finalizing data for last year's participants.
Seventy-two percent of this year's Subiendo class are in the top 10 percent of their class. Additionally, 58 percent of the class will be the first in their families to attend college.
This year's academy will take place June 23-27 in Austin. While they are here, the students will work on a project geared to addressing a major problem the state is currently facing. It can be a policy project, or something more business-related. Students will meet and discuss their projects with business leaders and policy makers with an eye toward presenting their projects in front of legislative staff at the Capitol and reporters from The Texas Tribune.
"It's great to see the kids who were a little shy the first day holding their own in front of the crowd," Acosta says.
Volunteers are a vital component to the program's success, according to Acosta. They not only shepherd kids around during the five days they are here for the program, but they also help answer any questions the students may have throughout the year on applying to college and financial aid.
"We want to give them as much information as we can so they can be successful," she says. "Our mentors connect with the students through social media and give them tips on everything from FAFSA [free application for federal student aid] to the importance of signing up for an early orientation."
Olga Castro, a Liberal Arts senior, is a team leader volunteer for Subiendo. She began volunteering her sophomore year.
"As a team leader, I loved the opportunity to help high school students realize their potential through the creation of their policy projects," she says. "The growth the students undergo throughout the week is phenomenal."
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