April 2018 – The Urban Experience Program (UEP) held its 2nd annual Scholarship & Awards Banquet to recognize the accomplishments of the Program and its’ students throughout the 2017 – 2018 school year.
On April 24, 2018 over one hundred UEP members and community supporters joined the Urban Experience Program (UEP) to celebrate the 2017 – 2018 school year. Some of the highlights from the year included the addition of three new employees. Tajuanda Montreuil joined the team from Texas A&M as a Program Coordinator. ““I’m grateful that she has joined the program. I see her guide each student that comes to her, and I feel the greatest comfort leaving the future of UEP in her hands” veteran UEP member Abraham Garcia says about the addition of Ms. Montreuil to the staff. Two new Student Leaders joined the staff, sophomores now rising juniors, Ty-Rinetta Sanders-Washington and Katherine Balderrama Najera.
The 2017 – 2018 school year saw the expansion of new programming to address the needs of our diverse student members. UEP’s special programs were recognized during the banquet. The Black Excellence Scholar Training (B.E.S.T.) Program provides academic support and professional development to African American students across all majors and empower them with the necessary tools and resources for success. Coca-Cola Scholars* increases student retention and graduation rates for first-generation students by awarding individual scholarships to 40 full-time undergraduate students who are the first in their families to attend college. Dream.US Scholars expands opportunities for DACA and undocumented students by providing support needed to achieve social and economic mobility. Las Comadres* is a mentoring program focused on supporting first generation Latina students by offering culturally relevant conversations and connections with current UH Latina faculty and staff. Teach Forward Houston Teach is a fellowship to ensure Houston’s schools are staffed with highly effective teachers committed to improving their community through education.
*Indicates a new program added in the 2017 – 2018 school year.
The second class of UEP Ambassadors were also introduced at the banquet. UEP Ambassadors are passionate student leaders who promote the university and program’s mission to empower students with academic, personal, and professional development resources that propel student success. Ambassadors represent UEP, plan and implement outreach events, and foster a supportive environment for our students. The 2018 – 2019 Ambassadors are Alana Mitchell, Bright C. Ihezue Jr., Esther Akinwande, Javier Campos (Lead Ambassador), Pedro Ortiz Ryan Hamilton.
The main event of the evening was the announcement and recognition of our grant recipients. UEP offers two different grants that members can apply to. The Empowerment Grant is open to students that have 2.9 GPA or lower and have demonstrated their commitment to UEP’s mission as they overcome personal barriers and work towards continued academic, personal, and professional success. The hope of the grant is to empower students with financial support as they continue to strive for academic success.
The 2018 – 2019 Empowerment Grant recipients are Aaron Sustaita, Aliyah Russell, Arig Khidir, Bright C. Ihezue Jr., Caleb Vanerable, Jaeckel Bautista, Jasmine Evans, Jonathan Allen, Judith Chicas, Kenneth Davis III, Shawn Calvin, and Uchechi Oguh.
The Encouragement Grant is open to students that have 3.0 GPA or higher and have demonstrated their commitment to UEP’s mission as well as their continued academic, personal, and professional success. The hope of the grant is to serve as an encouragement for their continued academic achievement.
The 2018 – 2019 Encouragement Grant recipients are Oluwapelumi Esther Akiwande, Afrah Bashir, Javier E. Campos, Mike LeAnthony Fields, Alejandra Garcia, Oralia Arlene Guerra, Ryan Christopher Hamilton, Jalen Lewis, Ashriel Krianne Magalong, Hillary Mathews, Layla Mayorga, Christina Nnabuife, Casey Nwachukwu, Pedro Ortiz Menchaca, Carmen Valencia Ayon, and Tiffanie Williams.
When asked to reflect on the year, Program Coordinator Sharlene Laud stated, “The past year has been very exciting for our office, as we expanded our programs and grew in student members. We are thankful for all the staff and community partners that believe in not only the work we do but more importantly, believe in our students.”