(May 26, 2011)--Local foster youths had a welcome surprise recently from U.S. Congressman Charles Gonzalez at the "Access Your Future" workshop hosted by the UTSA Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), housed at the university's Downtown Campus.
Gonzalez, who was at the campus for another event, heard about "Access Your Future" and decided to take time out to visit the teens in attendance. He joined UTSA President Ricardo Romo, who was the scheduled speaker for the event.
Gonzalez emphasized to the youths that there were many people supporting them, including the government, which provides various resources to help pay for a college education. But, he stressed, it is up to each person to take the initiative and take advantage of the opportunities.
"We were very pleased that Congressman Gonzalez took time from his very busy schedule to meet with the youth, their foster parents and caseworkers," said Harriett Romo, UTSA professor of sociology and director of the UTSA Mexico Center and Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI). "It was a great way to launch the CAPRI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that provides funds for the ACCESS Center to help foster care youth be successful in higher education."
Approximately 50 foster-care youths attended the half-day workshop established to help students and their mentors with the college application process. The workshop featured presentations from UTSA departments concerning admissions, financial aid, advising, student activities and housing.
The workshop is part of planned activities presented by UTSA's Access Center, developed from the grant provided by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development/Hispanic Serving Institutions Assisting Communities program.
According to the Casey Family Foundation's 2020 Vision for America's Children, 70 percent of foster youths indicate a desire to attend college, but only 35 percent get the opportunity and only 3 percent graduate. Foster-care alumni also are three times more likely to have household incomes at or below the poverty level, twice as likely to live without health insurance and more than one in five become homeless. The purpose of the Access Center is to encourage foster care youths to consider going to college in an effort to change these statistics for the better.
"This workshop illustrated the importance of institutional support as these students enroll in higher education," said Harriett Romo. "The UTSA community understands the importance of reaching out to foster-care youth and letting them know that support is here and ready for them when they arrive."
Angel's Crossing, Baptist Children's Family Services, Casey Family Services, Child Advocates of San Antonio and Project Quest are collaborating agencies under the HUD grant and cosponsored the May 14 workshop.
For more information about the workshop and Access Center plans, contact Sophia Ortiz, assistant director of the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute and Mexico Center, at 210-458-2692.
This free, one-day conference for UTSA students focuses on developing leadership skills, providing an open dialogue to address tough issues that leaders face, and offering a diverse spectrum of workshops.
H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104), Main Campus
The daylong event features authentic foods, music, dance, martial arts, shopping, games and entertainment from China, to the Indian Sub-continent, and the island nations of the Pacific.
Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Ron Ellis conducts the student instrumental ensemble in a free concert that is open to the public.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (Arts 2.03.02), Main Campus
The UTSA Office of Veteran and Military Affairs is hosting a day full of outreach events and activities by the U.S. Navy as part of a larger Navy presence in San Antonio called Navy Week with various events in the community through Feb. 25.
Student Union Paseo and Convocation Center entrance, Main Campus
Join this interactive play that is a courtroom drama and the audience is the jury. Discussion and will follow.
Student Union, Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
Langston Clark, UTSA assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition will discuss exploring the historical context for the role of black athletes in contemporary social movements.
John Peace Library, Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
The UTSA African American Studies program invites speakers from the leading African American Fraternities and Sororities for a panel discussion of the history of each organization and to enlighten the audience about the community service, academic purpose, professionalism and ethical roots of each group.
Student Union, Mesquite Room (SU 2.01.24), Main Campus
MuTe Fest is a celebration of original music and technology. Three days of concerts, sessions, and informative lectures will offer a unique experience of musical works created by fellow UTSA students and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about music technology.
Art Building, Music Tech Lab (Arts 3.01.30B), Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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