(March 15, 2013) -- Maricela Oliva, UTSA associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies, envisions a time when secondary schools, community colleges and universities collaborate to facilitate student progress from school to university and even graduate school. She also envisions the creation of a college-going culture in schools that promotes the inclusion and success in college of non-traditional, first-generation and underrepresented students.
"In Texas, we're riding the crest of a wave that's going to hit everyone else in the future," said Oliva. "We have rapidly changing demographics. Yet, we're working to meet our Closing the Gaps goals for all student groups. Texas is addressing challenges and learning things now that should inform the nation's educational policies in the next decade, particularly in the areas of college readiness and success."
As an educational leadership scholar, Oliva has long been advocating for changes in the way the United States supports the educational success of students throughout the educational pipeline, particularly in college. In the fall, she was elected to the College Board Academic Assembly Council for a three-year term. There she has found like-minded advocates from high schools, community colleges and universities who are working together to promote college readiness and success.
"We are finding that particularly among under-represented and first generation groups, students are not choosing a college that provides the right fit," Oliva said. "We're seeing students move right into community college when oftentimes a four-year college is a better fit for them. It is our hope that ongoing conversations about this as well as new tools will help students to find the college that helps them reach their full potential."
In 2012, the College Board launched Big Future, an online tool to help students navigate the challenging process of comparing, applying to and financing college. The tool also helps undecided students explore career options. Oliva and others on the College Board Academic Assembly Council are working to promote the online tool to get it into the hands of the people who need it most.
Oliva expects the College Board Academic Assembly Council to address the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, considering common core state standards as well as the academic content of AP and Subject Matter examinations.
"The College Board exists to serve its members," she said. "That means you get secondary and post-secondary institutional members at the same table to discuss the implications of educational policy. The College Board operates largely from the bottom up. Member organizations collectively decide what issues and needs are their priorities. Then, elected representatives like the Academic Assembly Council work together to develop solutions or approaches that make sense across levels."
Ultimately, the College Board will make policy recommendations to Congress, articulating members' views of how to successfully address the changing educational needs of the nation's population. They hope the discussions will inform policy that specifically helps students make the transition from high school to college.
And with Oliva on board, UTSA is right in the midst of the discussions.
"At UTSA, our students are unique and so depend on us to put support systems in place that meet their needs," she said. "They come from diverse backgrounds and have the capacity, as future leaders, to thrive and excel in college. It is my hope that I can articulate the needs of our students, our institution and our state so our experience, what we're seeing right here in San Antonio, informs the national agenda that the College Board is trying to move forward."
Oliva was raised in the small rural town of Donna, Texas, and was the first in her family to graduate from college. Today, she has more than 25 years of experience in higher education and specializes in research focusing on school-university collaboration and policy to promote college access; access to college for Latino, underrepresented and diverse students; and cross-cultural issues in higher education. In addition to serving on the faculty of UTSA and other Texas universities, Oliva has worked with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. She is also the author of "Leadership for Social Justice: Making Revolutions in Education," which has been published in two editions by Allyn & Bacon.
The College Board was founded in the early 1900s and now includes 6,000 colleges, universities and schools to promote college readiness. The Academic Assembly Council is one of three College Board councils. It includes advisory committees for the arts, English, history, social sciences, mathematical sciences, science and world language.
Learn more about UTSA's College of Business master's programs. These hands-on sessions allow students to review application procedures, learn admissions requirements and ask questions about the college master's programs.
Business Building (BB 4.02.10), Main Campus
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The three-day event showcases the Lone Star State's diversity adn rich heritage through a wide variety of ethnic food, music, dance, arts and crafts.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Learn more about UTSA's Master of Arts degree in Education and five program areas at this free informational session.
Main Building (MB 0.410), Main Campus
The 3rd annual event showcases the latest research discoveries of trainees, faculty, staff and students from health-related disciplines. Register in advance for this free event.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The inaugural Roadrunner Weekend begins with a golf scramble on Friday and a Gala and After Party Saturday night. The event connects UTSA alumni and supports scholarships.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr., San Antonio
The Academy is targeted at providing instructional tools to create a social studies curriculum with Chicano/Mexican American content.
Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), 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.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.