By Dr. Thomas Darwin

The Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE) in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) launched the PLUS program on July 13, 2015. This program is a collaborative effort between The University of Texas at Austin and Huston-Tillotson University, funded by a three-year grant from the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC).

The program was designed and is being implemented by a joint UT-HT team, with strong participation from DDCE and the UT Law School. The PLUS program build team includes Drs. Paul Anaejionu and Lorraine Samuels from Huston-Tillotson, and Drs. Aileen Bumphus, Thomas Darwin, Eric Dieter, and Stella Smith from DDCE. Samuel Riley and Elizabeth Youngdale from the UT Law School have also been deeply involved. Special recognition goes to Suzanne Wallen in DDCE’s Development Office for securing the funding from LSAC.

The purpose of the program is to attract talented students who might not typically consider law school or a career in the legal profession. There is a strong emphasis of students who are under-represented, first generation, and economically disadvantaged. The focus of the program goes well beyond LSAT prep. Students are learning and developing the knowledge and competencies they will need to succeed in law school and in legal professions.

Our inaugural cohort is comprised of 15 rising sophomores and juniors from UT and HT, and they have hit the ground running. Participants are enjoying an intensive program of professional panels, field trips to courts and law offices, and LSAT prep. They are also learning how to do legal analysis and write legal documents, following a complicated case assignment that is exactly like cases assigned to first year law students at UT School of Law. And, they are participating in plenty of fun activities including brain games, “Legal Eagle” movie nights, and lots of pizza.

DiscoverLaw Inaugural Cohort (Photo by Dr. Stella Smith)

In Fall 2015, participants will be able to participate in the IE Pre-Grad Internship and be partnered with a law student, and then in the spring, they will have the opportunity to work in conjunction with UT Law School’s legal clinics to directly get involved with community issues and the law.

DiscoverLaw (6-13-15) Professor Sokolow UT Law Professor David Sokolow (Photo by Dr. Stella Smith)

Given the quality of exchanges and participation in the first week, we fully expect our first cohort to go on and do amazing work in the world of law.


By Paola Rabago

About Advise TX

UT Advise Texas, directed by Paola Rabago and Patrick Patterson, Assistant Vice President for The Longhorn Center for School Partnerships (LCSP) within the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement (DDCE), works to increase the number of first-generation college going, low-income, and/or underrepresented students who apply, enter, and complete college. We do this by placing recent college graduates from partner universities as full-time college advisers in some of America’s underserved high schools. We believe that every student deserves the opportunity to enter and complete higher education.

Advisers work to foster a college-going culture within the schools they serve, which is one of the best predictors of whether students will pursue higher education. Advisers become part of their school’s community. They collaborate with teachers and administrators to tie college-going into the life of a school, devise creative approaches to reach and connect with students, and most importantly, open the eyes of students and their families to the possibility of college. Equally important, advisers supplement, not replace, existing high school counseling staff, thereby reaching more students.

Partnering Schools

Students in grade level 9th through 12th and part of our partnering high schools listed below are eligible to participate in the Advise TX program. Each day, our advisers track activities that are key performance indicators for increasing college enrollment rates. These include:

  • Campus Visits
  • College Representative Visits and College Fairs
  • SAT/ACT Registration
  • College Workshops
  • College Application Submissions
  • FAFSA Completion
  • Scholarship Dollars Awarded




Our student demographic is 74% Latino/a and 19% African American.

Income Level

74% of our population reports to be on free or reduced lunch.


This year’s college advising corps impacted many seniors. Our results presented 93% out of a total of 5,572 seniors served by Advise TX applied to at least one university, 61% of seniors submitted a FAFSA application, and 72% of seniors met with advisers to determine a best fit best match life plan based on their needs. The data for each of our partnering schools is as follows:

Seniors with at least one College Application Submitted

College Applications Submitted

Partnering School Number of College Applications Submitted %
Travis 273 91%
Akins 272 91%
Reagan 215 99%
KIPP Austin 93 100%
                                        Manor 382 100%
Economedes 461 92%
Juarez-Lincoln 456 94%
PSJA High 399 100%
Madison 515 89%
De Soto 445 80%
Lancaster 376 100%
Socorro 472 80%
El Dorado 766 91%
Americas 447 95%
TOTAL 5572 93%

FAFSA Submissions

*This number is subject to increase as our last report will be received in July 2015

Partnering School Number of FAFSA Applications Submitted %
Travis 120 44%
Akins 158 58%
Reagan 95 43%
KIPP Austin 91 98%
Manor 241 63%
Economedes 314 68%
Juarez-Lincoln 237 52%
PSJA High 339 85%
Madison 458 89%
De Soto 227 51%
Lancaster 181 48%
Socorro 189 40%
El Dorado 421 55%
Americas 264 59%
TOTAL 3335 61%

Adviser Meetings

Students Adviser Has Met With

*This is a total of the number of seniors the adviser met with to educate them about their options in higher education and determining a best fit best match plan for their future.

Partnering School Number of Meetings Held With Students %
Travis 233 40%
Akins 404 72%
Reagan 225 100%
KIPP Austin 94 100%
Manor 260 68%
Economedes 595 52%
Juarez-Lincoln 323 66%
PSJA High 386 97%
Madison 115 20%
De Soto 556 100%
Lancaster 309 82%
Socorro 433 73%
El Dorado 626 75%
Americas 309 66%
TOTAL 4868 72%


Students who met with the adviser at their school were:

  • 14% more likely to visit a college campus
  • 21.5% more likely to attend a financial aid workshop
  • 24.6% more likely to submit their FAFSA
  • 13.5% more likely to take the ACT
  • 30.5% more likely to apply to 1+ colleges
  • 22% more likely to apply to 3 or more colleges
  • 77% more likely to be accepted to 1 or more colleges
  • 47.3% more likely to apply to a 4-year college
  • 53% more likely to be accepted to a 4-year college

Pipeline Initiatives

In retrospect, the Advise TX program promotes, supports, and enhances the pipeline initiatives in continuing to focus on one of our 2014-15 DDCE strategic plan priorities —encouraging first generation/underrepresented students’ matriculation through higher education. We look forward to continuing our partnership with CAC and High Schools in order to keep supporting students to continue their educational trajectory.


By Dr. Stella Smith


The University of Texas at Austin and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) participated in the American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference held in Chicago, Illinois on April 16-20, 2015. Themed Toward Justice Cultural, Language and Heritage in Educational Research and Praxis, the meeting highlighted research that “considered how education praxis, research, theory, and policy can change the world—toward more justice.” Many DDCE faculty fellows, alums, staff and graduate students presented research, attended pre-conference sessions, and served in chair and discussant roles.

Selected conference presentations included:

An Exploratory Study of Women’s Experiences of Gender Influence in Higher Education Leadership – Anna Drake, UT-Austin; Laura Struve, UT-Austin; Jessica M. Khalaf, UT-Austin

Utilizing Intersectionality to Engage Dialogue in Higher Education – Betty Jeanne Taylor, UT-Austin; Claudia García-Louis, UT-Austin

Latino Males Navigating the Community College Environment and Family Obligations – Victor Saenz, UT-Austin; Claudia García-Louis, UT-Austin; Tonia Guida, UT-Austin; Anna Drake, UT-Austin

Bridging the Gap: A Case Study Examining Student Success in a Summer Bridge Program – Charles Lu, UT-Austin; Ashley N. Stone, UT-Austin; Carmen DeLas Mercedez, UT-Austin; Anthony Heaven, UT-Austin

Latina/o Student Success in Mathematics: Examining the Effects of Gender and Academic Engagement on Math Performance – Victor Saenz, UT-Austin; Claudia García-Louis, UT-Austin; Kye Hyoung Lee, UT-Austin; Carmen DeLas Mercedez, UT-Austin; Sarah Rodriguez, UT-Austin

Responding to Hate on Campus: Examining Administrative Leadership of Bias Response Teams – Ryan Miller, UT-Austin; Tonia Guida, UT-Austin; Stella L. Smith, UT-Austin; Sarah Kiersten Ferguson, Southern Methodist University; Elizabeth Medina, UT-Austin

More information about AERA and the 2015 Conference can be found at

logo 2014

In November 2014, UT-Austin and DDCE participated in the 39th Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education in Washington, D.C. The conference theme, Weaving Scholarship and Policy Making, provided an opportunity for researchers and policy makers to dialogue about issues in higher education. DDCE faculty fellows, alumni, staff and graduate students presented research at the conference.

Selected conference presentations included:

Understanding the Purposes and Operations of Bias Response Teams

Ryan Miller – UT-Austin

Tonia F. Guida – University of California, Los Angeles

Stella Smith – UT-Austin

Elizabeth Medina – UT-Austin

Sarah Kiersten Ferguson – Southern Methodist University

Las Mujeres in the STEM Pipeline: How Latina College Students who

Persist in STEM Majors Develop and Sustain their Science Identities

Sarah Rodriguez – UT-Austin

The Role of Family in the Lives of Latina Graduate Students

Veronica Pecero – Ohio State University

Carmen De Las Mercedez Finch – UT-Austin

“We are leaders in a movement” – Impact of the Peers for Pride

Program on Student Facilitators

Stella Smith – UT-Austin

Sarah Kiersten Ferguson – Southern Methodist University

Community Service Project with Howard University

and ASHE members

Lori Patton Davis – Indiana University

Judith Marquez Kiyama – University of Denver

Lisa Wolf-Wendel – University of Kansas

Richard Reddick – UT-Austin

Luis Leyva – Rutgers University

Samuel Museus – University of Denver

Scott Thomas – Claremont Graduate University

Intersections of Disability, Gender, Sexuality: Centering the Identities

of LGBTQ Students with Disabilities

Ryan Miller – UT-Austin

Barriers to “Leaning In”: An Exploratory Study of Career

Advancement for Women in Higher Education Administration

Anna Drake – UT-Austin

Jessica Khalaf – UT-Austin

Laura Struve – UT-Austin

A Critical Examination of the Effect of Institutional Policies on

African American Women in Leadership at Select Texas Institutions

Leslie Coward – University of Texas

Stella Smith – UT-Austin

Kimberly Koledoye – Houston Community College

The Complicated Role of Fathers in Latino Male Post-Secondary

Educational Success: A Texas Perspective

Victor Saenz – UT-Austin

Sarah Rodriguez – UT-Austin

Carmen Mercedes – UT-Austin

Daisy Pena – UT-Austin

Humberto Alanis – UT-Austin

More information about ASHE can be found at



By Dr. Stella Smith

On April 29, 2015 Dr. Kiersten Ferguson and Dr. Stella Smith, members of the Gender and Sexuality Center’s Peers for Pride (PfP) research team, participated in the 2015 Peers for Pride Final Performance and shared findings from their research sPfPtudy, determining how participating in the Peers for Pride program impacted the lives of PfP facilitators. The Peers for Pride program weaves together concepts of student identity development, social justice, and leadership while preparing students with peer facilitation skills. In this qualitative case study, the researchers interviewed peer facilitators from the six cohorts of PfP and conducted extensive document review to examine social change leadership development. Different aspects of this research were also presented at the national conferences of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the University Council on Educational Administration (UCEA) in November 2014. More information about the Peers for Pride Program can be found at


By Dr. Aileen Bumphus

Through coordinated efforts with our Pipeline programs, Academic Diversity Initiatives (ADI) is continuing to focus on one of our 2014-15 DDCE strategic plan priorities —encouraging first generation/underrepresented students’ matriculation through higher education, especially at the The University of Texas at Austin. Through Dr. Leonard Moore’s leadership, ADI has worked closely with our Outreach Centers and UT Office of Admissions to provide several opportunities to engage graduating seniors and their families as they make their college decisions. These included taking ADI staff members to targeted high schools across the state to work personally with the high school staff in creating programs and workshops designed to address specific college admissions questions that the students and parents have. As a result, the University has demonstrated a significant increase in the number of underrepresented students applying to UT. Additionally, there has been a substantial increase in the number of UT admission offers made to underrepresented students. This is due in part to an innovative initiative, Texas Advance, which is a major new scholarship opportunity aimed at supporting the success of economically disadvantaged individuals who have proven themselves by performing at the top of their high school classes. Pipeline Council sub-committee work also continues as we discuss the development of new strategies for engaging our appropriate partners.

Finally, we have successfully launched our prelaw program that is another pipeline opportunity for underrepresented students to matriculate into law school. This is a three-year pilot that will bring in 20 students each year. The Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) program is an initiative of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and is offered through collaboration between Huston-Tillotson University (HT) and The University of Texas at Austin (UT). The program is administered by the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE), a unit of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) at The University of Texas at Austin. The five-week residential program will help students learn more about the legal profession and what is needed to earn a law degree. PLUS focuses on the skills required to get into and succeed in law school and successfully pursue a range of careers in the legal field. The program is free for students selected to participate, and is funded by a grant from LSAC. The 2015 summer session will begin on Monday, July 13, 2015.