Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

September 29, 2005

Contact: Marisa Ramirez
713.743.8152 (office)
713.204.9798 (cell)

Academic Achievers Program Provides Study Halls,
Monthly Counseling, $2,500 Scholarships

HOUSTON, September 29, 2005—Latino students at the University of Houston who participate in the Academic Achievers mentoring program have a graduation rate nearly twice that of UH Latino students who do not.

The findings come from a review of the 11-year-old program by the UH Office of Institutional Research.

“We have always known that students who receive very close attention integrate more fully and more successfully than others,” Rebeca Trevino, program manager for Academic Achievers, said. “It’s gratifying to have these numbers to back up our enthusiasm.”

The study found that graduation rates of Academic Achievers who started at UH from 1996 to 1999 ranged from 68 to 89 percent. Graduation rates for other UH Latino students in that time period ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent.

“We are always happy to evaluate a program and see through the data that the students are successful,” said Susan Moreno, assistant director of the Office of Institutional Research (OIR), which reviewed the program. OIR provides accurate, timely, unbiased, research-based information regarding the university and its role in higher education. “It’s clear that Academic Achievers has done a great job of ensuring that their students graduate.”

The Academic Achievers Program (AAP) is a component of the UH Center for Mexican American Studies. The AAP provides up to $2,500 a year for minority students who are the first in their families to attend college. The program was created in 1994 as an effort to retain students whose circumstances put them at risk for dropping out of school. Each student must be enrolled fulltime, attend mandatory study hall hours, leadership workshops and seminars, and monthly counseling meetings. Students must also sign a contract agreeing to abide by the requirements of the program.

“Another element of our success is that we begin mentoring these students while they are still in high school. We want to get them in the mindset of higher education, but not desert them when they get here,” said Trevino.

The CMAS high school effort works with HISD’s Stephen F. Austin High School, where the majority of students are Latino. The study found that 25 of the 77 students now enrolled in AAP also participated in that effort.

“AAP provided me the tools to continue my education, but most importantly, the staff and fellow AAP members inspired me to grow and further develop myself, something I continue to do today,” Maria G. Sanchez, former AAP member said. She enrolled in the program in the spring of 1999 and continued with its activities through her graduation in the fall of 2002. Sanchez is now an advanced system analyst with ExxonMobil Global Services Company.

Trevino said that staying close to students often means counseling them on matters outside of traditional academic concerns. She frequently listens to challenges students have with their parents, their boyfriends or girlfriends, or medical issues.

“I’m their other mom, their sister, their friend. They come to my office and call me at home. It’s what’s needed and what works,” Trevino said. “These students need to be nurtured at every turn of their academic careers.”

The study also found that students in the Academic Achievers program had a higher grade point average (GPA) as compared with other Latino students, 2.82 compared to 2.66.

“We know we are making a difference. Our students tell us that,” Trevino said, “and these results prove it.”

For more information about Academic Achievers Program and the UH Center for Mexican American Studies, please visit

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