College Readiness Project Links Graduate Students with Middle, High School Students

The Austin Housing Authority has funded a new intensive mentoring and college readiness project called It Could Be U, a collaboration among Intellectual Entrepreneurship -- a program in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin -- the Media Communications Council and its parent organization, the Texas Diversity Council.

The three-year project was funded for $267,000 with $76,500 of that amount going to Intellectual Entrepreneurship to fund graduate student mentors for the project.

The project leverages cutting-edge curriculum, social media tools and mentoring from University of Texas at Austin graduate students and professionals, to empower middle school and high school students. As students are matched with mentors from their chosen fields of study, students and parents sign a contract to develop an educational plan and portfolio within that field. Students who participate in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program will provide mentoring services.

It Could Be U is based on the award-winning youth outreach program Media Xperiments developed by Media Communications Council founder Carl Settles Jr. It will expose students to a broad range of career paths, from media and communications to science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields through tours, job shadowing and service learning projects. The students will be able to post video, photographs and blogs about their experiences at

"About 60 percent of the student participants in Intellectual Entrepreneurship are first-generation college students or students from underrepresented backgrounds," says Dr. Richard Cherwitz, founder and executive director of Intellectual Entrepreneurship. "These students have found the mentoring process to be valuable in helping them achieve their own academic and career aspirations. Most Intellectual Entrepreneurship participants also want a real connection with their communities and an avenue to work in their communities. It Could Be U will be a perfect match for them."

"The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement has partnered with Texas Diversity Council on a number of conferences and diversity awards the past few years," says Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. "We're looking forward to collaborating with the Diversity Council and Media Communications Council on a project that will help ensure student academic success and help students think about their futures in positive ways."