CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Del Mar College are collaborating on a program made possible thanks to a $650,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The goal of the program is to students who were unable to finish their educational programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The case that we made for the two institutions, in getting the grant, was to be able to service a broader net of students, that would help the broader community here, because, truly, that’s what we’re trying to do, provide an avenue to continue to serve the needs of our greater community here, in helping students find the avenues to be able to get their employment, and be able to sustain themselves for the long haul, with regards to their training, and development in these areas of study,” said TAMUCC Vice President of Enrollment Management, Andy Benoit.
“Our community and our region deserves this kind of collaboration between the two institutions, so I’m glad we’re able to partner with [TAMUCC],” said DMC Vice President of Student Affairs Rito Silva. “The objective of the grant is to be able to get qualified individuals out in the work force, so they can, A: help their family out of their financial situation, and B: help the greater cause of enriching our workforce.”
The program will fund a coordinator position, and the person in the position will work with both schools’ financial aid offices to help identify students who are eligible to participate. After a student is enrolled, the coordinator will also assist them to make sure they are able to navigate the program successfully.
“They will have a person dedicated at the institutions that will report to both financial aid directors, that will be able to help them and serve as a person to help give them guidance, to be able to answer questions, not only about their funding, but also to be able to find their niche at both places, to be able to get them some navigation and some transitional opportunities,” Benoit said.
The program will focus on three groups of students, all ones who were close to completing their educational programs prior to the pandemic: students at DMC who were close to finishing certificate program, or an associate’s degree, who will be getting into the workforce, students at DMC close to finishing their associate’s degree who want to continue their education at TAMUCC, and TAMUCC students who were close to finishing their bachelor’s degree.
The program would first be available for students to use the grant for the summer 2021 semester, and the goal is for the program to take about 12 months to complete.
“The primary focus is on students that had been enrolled in the past, not necessarily students who are currently enrolled. The plan is for most institutions to begin with the future semester, so, for us, we are gearing up everything now to begin serving students in the summer,” Benoit said.
The schools highlighted six career areas with high employment demands in the area, including business, healthcare, occupational health and safety, engineering/computer science, public service, and professional skills/trade industry.
“Basically, the areas of study that we indicated are the areas that are most in need for our area. It’s really just continuing their education, and learning skills that will allow them to be competitive and productive in the workforce,” Benoit said.
Silva said students need to be eligible for financial aid to be eligible for the grant, and it will cover whatever tuition financial aid does not cover. Also, all ancillary services the schools provide to their students will be available to recipients of the grant.
“All our other programs, like tutoring, career placement, the food pantry, disability services, all those wraparound services, we’re going to be able to offer these students as well,” Silva said.
For more information, including to see if they qualify for the grant, students are asked to contact their respective financial aid offices. TAMUCC students can email email@example.com, or call 361-825-2338. DMC students should email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 361-698-1290.