Our new partnership with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) kicked off this week at our three sites, Lanier, Reagan, and Travis High Schools. Our kick off week activities included a pizza party where about 25 of our UT graduate and undergraduate students, including mentoring staff and student mentors, introduced Project MALES to our high school students, at their respective school campuses. During this event mentors and mentees had the opportunity to meet each other before breaking up into their mentoring groups for the academic year. Other activities included icebreakers where mentors and mentees learned about one another, followed by an overview of the topics and activities they will be engaging in throughout the school year.
This academic year Project MALES launched Instructing Males through Peer Advising College Tracks (IMPACT), a new service-learning course offered through the College of Liberal Arts. The course meets once a week, co-instructed by Dr. Sáenz, Dr. Romo and the mentoring team. The course objectives are to enhance college student engagement and academic achievement by offering active and experiential learning opportunities through near peer advising and service learning. Students enrolled in the course have already engaged in leadership trainings with emerging and established community leaders from the Central Austin area and will begin with their mentoring
activities at Travis, Lanier, Reagan High Schools and at UT Elementary, starting the first week of November.
IMPACT emphasizes active learning in different environments, allows students to see and experience the relationship between theory and practice, and provides students with opportunity to use newly acquired knowledge and skils in real-life situations. We are midway through the semester and we have already seen the impact the course has made with our undergraduate students, here is what one of our students shared about his experience in the course so far:
“I just wanted to say that what you explained in class really stuck to me and I thought about it throughout the whole day. I had no idea that at a young age, students are already put into this “filter-like system” that determines their placing in the future. It is quite sad and unjust and shows that our nation’s school system needs adjustments. I also enjoyed how you showed the clip at the end of class. I honestly want to be a teacher after I graduate because I want Latino males to look up to me as a prime example why they can be successful, much like Mr. Escalante. The video showed exactly how his success came with the fact that he could relate to his own students. In high school, there was no male Latino I could look up to, but I want to change that for others” (Project MALES Mentor & IMPACT Student).
Throughout the semester students who are enrolled in the course will also have the opportunity to lead
community engagement events, volunteer at various city-wide events, serve and partner with our colleagues in the Central Texas area which include the Austin
Independent School District, and Communities in Schools, among others. We are excited to have started this new project with a positive impact on students and are looking forward to the development of the course and to bring you more stories that highlight the impact we are having with our undergraduate mentors and student mentees at our local schools.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Espinoza, Project MALES Mentor & IMPACT Student.