AP NEWS

Festival to prepare students for college

April 13, 2019

HARLINGEN — Are you ready for post-secondary education? The South Texas Higher Education Festival Executive Team wants to make sure you are, so it’s holding a festival this weekend. “We are a team of twelve teenagers passionately working to provide other students our age with the tools that they need to prepare for college,” said Matthew Garcia, 18.

The festival is geared toward eighth through 11th graders. Matthew, a senior at Harlingen School of Health Professions, began thinking of the festival last year when he and HSHP instructor Jose Becerra attended the Aspen Ideas Festival.

“We got to learn from some of the nation’s greatest advocates on how we can make community change projects,” said Matthew, who will attend Harvard in the fall.

“We became a part of this big family of scholars all around the world that are doing their own individual projects around where they live,” Matthew said. “We brought that back here and now we’re doing our own individual projects.”

Thus was born the South Texas Higher Education Festival organized by Matthew and his fellow HSHP students.

“We have partnered with HCISD, the Bezos Family Foundation, and the Aspen Institute to host STHEF at the Harlingen School of Health Professions,” he said.

And what, specifically, is their purpose?

“I think one of the biggest issues of concern that we see in our community is that a lot of students lack the proper knowledge for the preparation to go into their college applications really confidently,” Matthew said. “Because of this we feel that students aren’t encouraged to apply exactly where they want to.”

Instead, they apply to colleges where they feel “safe,” he said.

“We just want to give them the confidence and the skills so they can make the best decisions for themselves as to where they want to go to college,” he said.

The team has some impressive speakers lined up, including popular motivational speaker Jonathan Medina and Rosalinda Mercado, chief executive officer of E-Colors in Education, Inc.

“We’ll have sessions and those are going to be experts in the field who are college admissions officers, they’re master essay readers, they’re interviewing people,” he said. “They’re really going to give students the skills that they can build upon.”

He and his team have been working these many months trying to coordinate all this.

“We’re really looking at especially the juniors, maybe looking a little earlier at the eighth graders, people that still have the time to get ready,” he said.