University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

About Us

The Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE) is a learning community at The University of Texas at Austin, serving over 2,000 students in its freshman-to-senior pipeline. Our four signature programs are: Gateway Scholars, Longhorn Link, McNair Scholars, and Summer Bridge. LCAE offers a variety of services that students can benefit from, such as smaller class sizes, reserved seats in competitive courses, tutoring, academic/career advising, internship opportunities, peer mentors, scholarships, and more. For additional information, please visit each programs individual site or contact us via phone (512-471-1205) or email (

Joseph Gallardo has gone from being a high school dropout to one of the top students in his class, a mentor to other students at The University of Texas at Austin, and is currently preparing to take the LSAT.

Gallardo, a senior who is majoring in public relations, government and business foundations, was a high school dropout who went back to high school, finally graduating second to last in his class after six years and having attended five different high schools. After a year of working minimum wage jobs, he decided that he wanted to go to college. Though his mother suggested he join the military, he enrolled in Palo Alto College in San Antonio for two years. “It was like learning everything for the first time. I really didn’t learn much in middle school or high school, so it was a real challenge,” Gallardo explained. Despite his difficulties, he was successful at Palo Alto College, serving as captain of the school’s basketball team and ultimately graduating with a 3.94 GPA.

Gallardo felt he had no chance of getting accepted to UT Austin, but with the encouragement of his sister, he applied and arrived on campus in summer 2012, unprepared for how difficult it would be. “I just stepped foot on campus and felt so intimidated; I felt like everyone was a genius,” he said. Due to limited funds, he rode the Megabus back and forth to San Antonio every day just to be able to attend classes. Despite his doubts and travel schedule, Gallardo made As in his classes that summer and has continued his academic success, maintaining a 3.9 GPA through his final semester. “The work is harder, the classes are larger. I think my mindset has helped—just stay focused on doing whatever you need to do to get it done,” he said.

One of the first people Gallardo met on campus was Dallawrence Dean, a student affairs administrator in DDCE’s Longhorn Link Program. Gallardo and a friend happened by the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence in the Student Services Building one day and stopped in. “All of the services sounded awesome,” he said. Now Gallardo is a Longhorn Link academic success coach and a peer mentor. He mentors 15 students who are struggling in their second year at UT Austin and four additional incoming students to help them get acclimated to the university.

He became interested in a law career after participating in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate Internship program, also in the DDCE. “That’s what I love about this university—so many opportunities. You just have to go out and find them,” Gallardo said.

His mentor was second-year law student Siena Magallanes. After attending a few law classes with Magallanes, Gallardo was hooked. He would like to specialize in alternative dispute resolution although he knows he might earn more in other areas of law.

Gallardo currently interns at the Texas State Capitol and recently had a final interview for the Archer Fellowship in Washington, D.C. He also has an internship in public relations and law set up with the San Antonio Spurs upon graduation. However, if selected for the Archer Fellowship, he will postpone the internship until spring and work a year before going to law school in 2015.

“It is so humbling for me to think I have the privilege of helping other Longhorn students as their mentor. I would have never dreamed that was even close to possible,” he said. “Every day I wake up amazed that I’m still here.”

–Leslie Blair

Taylor Turner Selected for Archer Fellowship

February 18, 2014

Taylor Turner, a third-year Gateway scholar and mentor, was selected for the prestigious Archer fellowship where she is spending the semester learning and interning in Washington D.C.  As she experiences life in our snowy capitol, she reflects upon her journey thus far. “What starts here…” Gateway helped smooth my transition onto the 40 acres, built […]

Read the full article →

Dr. Moore Serves as Keynote Speaker for American Football Coaches Association

January 21, 2014

Dr. Leonard Moore, associate vice president for academic diversity initiatives and director of the African American Male Research Initiative in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, will deliver a keynote address on Jan. 14 during the American Football Coaches Association annual meeting in Indianapolis in a session […]

Read the full article →

Ja’Michael Darnell: A Young Man with Great Ambition

December 18, 2013

“Taking the IE journey helped me realize I can confidently graduate from this university with the knowledge and skills needed to become a passionate and successful playwright or actor.” [Fall 2013 IE Kuhn Scholar Ja'Michael Darnell, the first in his family to attend college] Ja’Michael also notes: “As a result of IE I wrote a […]

Read the full article →

Dr. Chen: Leaving LCAE

December 11, 2013

On Tuesday, December 3rd, Dr. Ge Chen celebrated her retirement with a room full of staff and faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin.  Dr. Chen, Assistant Vice President of Academic Diversity Initiatives at UT, has been with the university for 20+ years.  Before becoming Assistant Vice President, Dr. Chen was the Executive Director for the […]

Read the full article →

Gateway’s Merry White Elephant Gift Exchange

December 6, 2013

On November 21, the Gateway Scholars mentors held a white elephant gift exchange. While the game started off calmly with mentors opening up new presents, it soon became exciting with presents being stolen, restolen, and destolen. Among the most popular gifts were holiday socks from Urban Outfitters, a glow-in-the-dark soccer ball, and a toy rocket. […]

Read the full article →

Dr. Charles Lu and STEM

November 11, 2013

Dr. Charles Lu, Postdoctoral Fellow and Academic Director of the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence, was recently quoted in the Brown Daily Herald, the official newspaper of Brown University, as an expert on STEM education in a series entitled “Missing Scientists.”  Dr. Lu’s research, which focuses on the underrepresentation of minority groups in the STEM disciplines, […]

Read the full article →

LCAE Opens New Journalism Writing Center

November 1, 2013

Do you dream of a career in journalism yet struggle with writing tight leads and strong nut graphs? The Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence, through Gateway Scholars, is launching a pilot for a Journalism Writing Center designed to bridge that gap. A journalism writing coach will work one-on-one with you at the Belo Center for […]

Read the full article →

The Grand Commission on Young African American Males

November 11, 2013

African American males are frequently portrayed as troublesome thugs; however, four African American male graduate assistants from the Longhorn Center of Academic Excellence (LCAE) disproved this stereotype. On October 26th at the Grand Commission on Young African American Males at Sigma Pi Phi’s Southeast Regional Meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, these young men discussed their desire […]

Read the full article →

Gateway’s Monday Math Labs!

October 22, 2013

y = 5 + x, and D=m/v. Are you getting the arithmetic game down? There are several formulas that you must know when attacking a variety of problems on single math test or quiz. Join Gateway and attend their Monday Math Labs held in SSB 4.400, from 4-8pm every Monday night. There are plenty of people who are all […]

Read the full article →