Nestor Castro is one of two San Antonio students who were selected to receive the UT Outreach Scholarship, awarded to outstanding UT Outreach participants who will attend the University of Texas at Austin. The scholarship honors Nestor’s hard work and dedication to UT Outreach – San Antonio, and will cover $20,000 of tuition costs at UT Austin disbursed over four years.
A Harlandale High School student, Nestor began his path to achievement four years ago when he joined DDCE’s UT Outreach-San Antonio as a freshman. Nestor was certain he wanted to continue his education after high school, but the program provided him with new, useful information he had not considered. “The student meetings and workshops held by UT Outreach have definitely been the most beneficial in my college process,” Nestor observes, “Such events provided me with information regarding college applications and financial aid, [ranging from] deadlines, to scholarships and college advice.”
Nestor recently began the Summer Bridge program at UT Austin, an opportunity to earn college credit and get a jump start on his freshman year during summer school. The program is by invitation-only and provides funding for students to attend. It is coordinated by the DDCE Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence in partnership with the office of Vice Provost David Laude.
“The best part of Summer Bridge so far has been the guidance and support provided to the students. The staff is primarily committed in making the Summer Bridge experience an easy transition from high school to college. Our leaders and mentors are focused on teaching us about the values and expectations that we need to succeed,” said Nestor.
Like many newcomers to the UT Austin campus, Nestor found his first day of class quite hectic. “I even attended the wrong class,” he said. “Not only was I required to get used to walking from class to class as well as searching for them, I was also required to learn how to manage my time. I am only taking two classes this month, however, my day pretty much consists of class, studying, and homework along with having lunch and dinner. It is crucial to learn how to manage your time. I can only imagine what an experience it would have been to start college with five classes on the same day and getting through the week. In that sense, I’m thankful that Summer Bridge is able to make my transition into college as easy as possible.”
Nestor believes UT Austin is the perfect fit for him. “I am outgoing and thrive for excitement. I had heard the phrase ‘Keep Austin Weird!’ and only after attending the campus I understood its meaning.” He is also attracted to the campus’ environment at the heart and intellectual center of Austin. Most importantly, the university offers a top-notch Computer Science program, “it is ranked among the best, and fulfills my expectations for a program preparing me for my future.”
As it happens to many students, Nestor’s dream to attend UT Austin was initially thwarted by financial considerations. Nestor received an offer from Texas A&M University and although the competing offer was tempting, Nestor went with his gut, “After strongly thinking which university would fit me best, I proudly chose UT Austin. Hook ‘em.”
Lori Reyes is director of UT Outreach – San Antonio, which serves nine schools in the San Antonio area. It is one of five outreach centers within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.