College Readiness Month Is Coming

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October is “College Readiness Month” in Houston ISD.  In an effort to promote college awareness and readiness, the College Readiness Department is encouraging campuses to fully participate in this initiative.  This is the time to fill your calendar with presentations for parents and students, campus activities and classroom discussions.  We are asking you to share with us the dates and times of any scheduled events as well as other creative plans to spread the excitement of “Gearing up for College”.  Please email this information to

Mark your calendar for the following events during October:

September 30 – October 11, 2013 – Campus-based TACRAO College Fairs

October 16, 2013 – PSAT/NMSQT (All 9th, 10th and 11th graders)

October 16 – 30, 2013 – ReadiStep (All 8th graders)

October 29, 2013 – Ivy + College Night (4:30 – 5:45 pm – College Fair; 6:00 – 8:00 pm – College Panel Discussion – Location: Davis High School Auditorium)


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  • CACs & Counselors Monthly Meeting: Our first meeting is the September 10th Fall Counselor Workshop with College Board. Register on eTrain today (CG0177)! Monthly meetings are on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.
  • Ivy + College Night: EMERGE HISD invites all students and parents to meet with admissions representatives from our nation’s top colleges on October 29 at the Hattie Mae White ESC. College Fair is 4:30pm-6:30pm and panel discussion is 6:45pm-8:00pm. Click here to download a flyer to distribute.
  • TTU & UofH Counselor Updates: Join representatives from Texas Tech University and the University of Houston for lunch at Maggiano’s Little Italy and learn about important updates from the universities. Register for the event by clicking the date you would like to attend: September 24th or September 25th.
  • Mandatory Anti-Bullying Awareness Training: This year’s training is especially important as there are new mandatory reporting requirements. Training must be completed by September 20th. Register today on eTrain (SS0012)! Click here to read more. 
  • Click here to see how to access the College Readiness Shared Outlook Calendar.

Student Spotlight

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Boredom and failure are not in her vocabulary. Opportunity and exploration, however, are words by which she lives.

“My favorite word is opportunity. I feel like everyone deserves an opportunity. I believe that if people took the opportunities they’re granted, their life could change in one or many ways,” says Karen Banda, a senior at Furr High School. True to her word, she visited nine states and traveled to England this summer.

“There is something about taking these opportunities that made me change the way I see myself and my ability,” reflects Banda.

Touring colleges in the northeast with a group of 80 EMERGE Fellows opened her eyes to the myriad of possibilities at top colleges. “I can go to a top-tier university if I set my mind to it,” Banda proclaims. Hearing firsthand from other first generation and minority students about the opportunities available at Brown and Yale made her realize that, “my family’s finances are not a block in my path.” Staying in the dormitories at Tufts and Columbia as well as touring Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania strengthened her conviction. HISD’s EMERGE program, which aims to help high-performing, low-income students into Ivy League and Tier I colleges, continues to support Banda on her path to college through bi-weekly meetings that address topics such as the college application, college explorations, financial aid, writing effective personal statements, and SAT preparation.

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College exploration intertwines with career exploration as Banda points out that being part of GeoFORCE afforded her the chance to “take on the job of a geologist and think like one in the field.” The selective program, which is part of the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, took her on experiential learning field trips to Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Banda has participated in the program since the summer before high school.

A new addition to Banda’s summer learning is the British American Foundation of Texas’s Junior Achievers Program. DiscoverU, a local non-profit that connects low-income students to Fantastic Learning Opportunities, works closely with EMERGE and provided support throughout the competitive application. She was selected as one of only six students in the state to receive a full scholarship to travel to London, England and where she studied at the American Community School and visited important monuments and museums.

“It’s good to get out of your comfort zone,” Banda says.

She offers the following advice to fellow HISD students. “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of things you can do. If you take your time researching, you could end up finding many opportunities that you didn’t know were there.  All you have to do is research. I don’t believe in failure; I believe in start overs. I think that every ‘failure’ someone goes through is a chance to start over or do something different. I believe that if you fall down and ‘fail’ at something, you have to get up and start from the beginning, changing some things you did previously.”

Click here to share exciting student stories with the College Readiness Department.

Meet the College Readiness Team

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We are excited to support you in your work connecting students to college!

You can reach the College Readiness Department at 713.556.7196 or e-mail anyone on the team by clicking on a name.

The College Readiness Team is led by:
Rick Cruz
Assistant Superintendent of College Readiness

Yolanda Norman
Manager of College Readiness

Secretary to Assistant Superintendent Rick Cruz:
Beverly Batiste

Three College Readiness Specialists:
Shontel Roberts
Ray Weaver
Priscila Zoeller

Five Academic Program Managers implement the EMERGE program at high schools across HISD:
Jharrett Bryantt
Victoria Chen
August Hamilton
Maryell Hernandez
Danny Rojas

Naviance News

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This summer over forty HISD faculty including college access coordinators, librarians, and many others gathered in Florida for the Naviance Summer Institute (NSI). Participants learned about Naviance features and implementation through sessions led by educators, Naviance staff, and even members of Team HISD. A huge shout out to our HISD presenters for sharing their wealth of knowledge.

Click below to download NSI 2013 presentations and learn ways HISD campuses are effectively implementing Naviance.

You can learn more about Naviance anytime by visiting the Naviance Network.

Click here to view or download all the presentations from the NSI 2013.

Click here to request Naviance Access.

Campus Spotlight

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“I want to have every senior apply to a college before Christmas.” Lead Counselor at North Forest HS, Harriet Stewart, beams as she describes one of her big goals for the year.

HISD welcomed North Forest schools into the district on July 1 and Stewart has been working tirelessly to lay the foundation for college readiness at her campus.

Stewart’s years of experience show as she directs movement of furniture for counselors’ offices, coordinates with the College Board and ACT, and eagerly seeks out the many resources and services available to HISD campuses. Her duties are many, but Stewart knows an HISD College Readiness Specialist is a phone call or e-mail away. We offer a warm welcome to the North Forest High School Biting Bulldogs.