by Carmen Hernandez

ACC Hosted several events recently for Ascender students.


The Ascender Bienvenidas took place on August 21st at the Highland Business Center and on August 28th at the South Austin Campus. For both curbside events, the Ascender team welcomed new ACC students joining the program with an introduction of the team and a welcome package to congratulate them on starting their new academic year. Because all other events will be virtual again this semester, the Ascender team felt it was necessary and important to kick-off the semester with a warm welcome by hosting this in-person event. Many students had expressed their concerns about learning in a virtual environment, and this was the best and safest option to host an event that allowed students to feel comfortable and officially part of the Ascender familia. During both Bienvenidas, the Ascender team had the chance to meet students in a safe, socially distanced space, as well as meet students’ families and friends, learn about the students’ interests, what they’re majoring in, and overall, get to know their background and what they look forward to by being in the Ascender Program. The team was also able to remind students about important events this upcoming semester and answer any questions or concerns students had about starting school. Many students demonstrated their dedication and enthusiasm by attending the event and asking questions about the program.

16 de Septiembre

The 16 de Septiembre event took place as a virtual celebration to honor Mexican Independence. The Ascender Program collaborated with ACC’s El Centro, the Consulate of Mexico in Austin, and the Latinx Student Union (LXSU) at ACC to bring together an informative session about this International Day of Celebration.

The virtual event started with introducing Jose Munoz, from the Consult of Mexico in Austin, followed by one of Ascender professors and mentors, Dr. Gary Moreno, who gave an overview and informative background on t Mexican Independence, explaining in detail the importance of this event. An important fact included the war being led by a priest known as Miguel Hidalgo. In 1810 at the beginning of the movement, Hidalgo summoned the people of Dolores to the church where he gave a passionate speech for freedom; el Grito de Dolores. Throughout the event, students had the opportunity to participate in a Kahoot game to challenge and engage in their knowledge of Mexican Independence by answering questions such as what “El Grito” symbolizes, and who was the founding father of Mexico. When the game was over, the winning student received a prize.

Towards the end, the Ascender Program gave a warm welcome to Mireya Ramos, a Latin Grammy winner and member of an all-female mariachi band, La Flor de Toloache. This all-women Mariachi band originated in New York City and was founded by Mireya Ramos and Shae Fiol in 2008 when they began playing at the New York City subways. Their well-known mariachi band has been recognized for their unique style by embracing the Latin music community and creating diverse, cultural music. They have shared the stage performing with Pedro Fernandez and Aida Cuevas. In addition, their live performances have been recognized by Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine, and The New York Times. During the last moments of the event, she presented to the program coordinators videos of their Mariachi band music dedicated to the 16 de Septiembre event.

Mentor/Mentee Matching

The Ascender Mentor and Mentee Matching event took place through three virtual sessions for all students and mentors. Before this event, the team diligently trained dedicated mentors and matched them with students based on their hobbies and interests and, most importantly, based on any goals each student and mentor wanted to achieve through this experience. The Ascender team developed lists of student’s and mentor’s interests thoughtfully. Within a couple of days, the team successfully matched all students to prepare them for this next part of the program.

During the virtual events, students learned about the meaning of having a mentor within the program who would help them throughout their first year in college with any resources they needed. (tutoring, resume building, career search, outside community resources, etc.)

Overall, the Ascender Program wanted to emphasize the importance of having a mentor to help students accomplish any academic goals or to face challenges they may have during their transition to college.

After the presentation, Outreach Specialist, Megan Diaz, shared a list of questions for mentors and students to interview one another; that way, they could become familiar with each other and start forming their relationships. Then, each mentor and mentee had separate meetings to learn about their backgrounds and interests, exchange contact information, set up proper meeting schedules, and talk about goals or challenges they wanted to achieve or overcome throughout the semester. Towards the end, the Ascender team thanked the mentors for the time and effort they applied to meet their new mentees. These virtual gatherings were the start of mentors’ and mentees’ relationships and are the beginning of students being successful and motivated throughout their first year of college.




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