“Effective board work demands having a strong personal belief and interest in an organization, its mission, and its vision. It’s a matter of thoroughly understanding the core work and culture of an organization. And it’s a matter of providing the right balance of guidance and support, and fulfilling the responsibilities of governance and strategic direction. It’s also a fantastic way for emerging young leaders to get involved in their communities, take on new organizational roles, and shape and own different types of leadership skills.”


Catch the Next’s board is made up of people who have a passion for the organization’s mission and who bring to the board a lot of their own knowledge and expertise. This year, for the first time, our board will include alumni from the Ascender program.

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Dr. Charles Cook, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Austin Community College and Kathy Zarate, Senior Fellows Coordinator with Texas OnCourse. Dr. Cook is resigning from the board this year and Zarate will be stepping down from her position as board chair.

Please meet our 2020-2021 Board of Directors:

Maria Martha Chavez Brumell-CTN President, Chief Executive OfficerLecturer, UT Austin, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

Dr. Chavez-Brummel is a sociologist with a history of researching, implementing, and evaluating social policy. Dr. Chavez has a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in Journalism, Psychology, and Spanish Literature and a master’s degree in Education – Curriculum and Instruction. She also has a Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy from Yale University. At Kansas State, Dr. Chavez created The Minority Admissions Program. At Yale, she has served as Assistant Dean in Yale College, and as a member of the faculty. At Yale, Dr. Chavez established the Asian- Chicano- Native American Cultural Center, The Chicano Boricua Studies program (that has evolved into the American Studies, Race, Ethnicity and Migration major), the LULAC Head Start Program (a preschool initiative for children up to 5 years old), and the building of The Latino Youth Center in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. Maria also worked at Save the Children Federation as Associate Vice President of U.S. Programs and Global Marketing Team and was principal investigator for the state of the union report on America’s Forgotten Children, looking at America’s 101 poorest rural places. She established six community learning centers in the Central Valley of California for the America’s Forgotten Children Campaign. Dr. Chavez also worked with Public Agenda, a research and engagement organization, and was a national partner in the Achieving the Dream Initiative, where she served as Research and Engagement coach and member of the Knowledge Development Working Group.

Rogelio Sáenz, PhD.-CTN Board Chair

Dr. Saenz is the former Dean of the College of Public Policy and holds the Mark G. Yudof Endowed Chair at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  He also is a Policy Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Sáenz has written extensively in the areas of demography, Latina/os, race and ethnic relations, inequality, immigration, public policy, and social justice. He co-authored Latinos in the United States: Diversity and Change and co-edited The International Handbook of the Demography of Race and Ethnicity. Sáenz regularly writes op-ed essays on demographic, social, racial, and policy issues for a variety of newspapers and writes a monthly column for Ahora Sí, the Spanish-language newspaper of the Austin American-Statesman. Earlier this year, the EngAmerican Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity presented Saenz its Cesar Estrada Chavez Award, an honor that recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in support of workers’ rights and humanitarian issues.

Rogelio Sáenz earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from Iowa State University in 1986. He earned his M.S. degree in Sociology from Iowa State University in 1984, and his bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 1981 from Pan American University (abolished to form the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley).

Matthew Reyna-CTN Board Treasurer

Matthew Reyna is a San Antonio native with a passion for healthcare and education equity. Matt was born and raised in San Antonio and attended St. Mary’s University where he received his bachelor’s degree in English. After ten years of working and managing at a senior living facility, Matt decided to pursue his Master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of the Incarnate Word. During his time at UIW, Matt worked for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa as a consultant analyzing the effects of an $8.5 million-dollar hospital expansion project. Reyna currently serves as a Financial Analyst for the Department of Neurosurgery at the Yale School of Medicine. In his role, Matt analyzes clinical, marketing, and financial data to monitor and forecast departmental performance. He manages the Department of Neurosurgery’s budget and supports the strategic planning process.

Stephanie Alvarez, PhD.-CTN Board Secretary

Dr. Perez Alvarez is an Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies School of Interdisciplinary Studies & Community Engagement at the University of Texas – Río Grande Valley College of Liberal Arts. She earned her PhD in Spanish from the University of Oklahoma. At Pan American University, she was the founding director of the Mexican American Studies program (2009-2013) & Center for Mexican American Studies (2011-2013). Dr. Perez Alvarez is the recipient of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Outstanding Latina/o Faculty Award (2011) and the University of Texas Board of Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award (2009). Dr. Perez Alvarez is the co-editor with William Luis of The AmeRícan Poet: Essays on the Work of Tato Laviera (2014). Her research intersects in the areas of Latin@ identity, language, literature, culture, education and empowerment and has appeared in various edited volumes and journals such as Hispania, Journal of Latinos and Education and CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, among others. Together with Tato Laviera, Edna Ochoa and José Martinez she founded Cosecha Voices, a program that provides migrant farmworker youth the opportunity to document and share their testimonios.

Kathy Zarate, JD.

Kathy Zarate is Senior Fellows Coordinator with Texas OnCourse, a college and career preparedness initiative housed at the University of Texas at Austin. Kathy manages a fellowship for secondary counselors to promote college and career initiatives in Texas to ensure that all students graduate high school prepared for postsecondary success. Kathy holds a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University along with a master’s degree in public administration and a juris doctor degree from St. Mary’s University. After completing her graduate studies, Kathy was selected for the Government of District of Columbia’s Capital City Fellows program, where she rotated to three different district agencies such as the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism and the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education.

Prior to joining Texas OnCourse, Kathy served as a developmental education program specialist at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and managed a college readiness program for four years at Austin Partners in Education.  In her spare time, Kathy volunteers with Austin Bat Cave, a nonprofit providing free youth creative writing programs, leading weekly writing workshops with students from T.A. Brown Elementary School. 

Robert Garza, PhD.

Dr. Robert Garza was appointed as the seventh president of Alamo Colleges District-Palo Alto College on July 25, 2018. Originally joining the Alamo Colleges District in 1999, Dr. Garza held several positions during his tenure at Palo Alto College, including Dean of Community Development and Partnerships, Dean of Student Success, and Vice President of Student Success. In his role as Vice President of Student Success, Dr. Garza led a division of 90 full-time professional and support staff members who strived to provide quality and effective student services in the areas of admissions, advising, graduation, transfer programs, career and job placement, child care, financial aid, scholarships, Alumni y Amigos, federal programs, pre-college programs (including dual high school/college credit instruction and several early college high school programs), student life, student recruitment and veterans affairs.

In 2015, Dr. Garza was appointed president of Mountain View College (Dallas County Community College District) since 2015. Under his leadership, Mountain View College recorded its highest levels of enrollment in the fall 2017 semester and again in spring 2018, enrolling more than 10,300 credit students.

Dr. Garza has presented at numerous conferences on subjects including enrollment management, student development, and the role of student affairs in facilitating student success. He was awarded the V. Ray Cardozier Alumni Excellence Award by the University of Texas, which honors a graduate of the doctoral program in higher education who demonstrates excellence in their scholarly/professional work.

Dr. Garza holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation focused on Faculty Perspectives in Online Learning, which included a study that utilized Interactive Qualitative Analysis to identify challenges in online education and capture faculty perceptions about online learning.

Amaury Nora, PhD.

Dr. Nora is Professor of Higher Education, Co-Director of the Center for Research and Policy in Education, and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is also Editor of The Review of Higher Education, the journal for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE).

His research has focused on theoretical perspectives related to student persistence, the role of college on diverse student populations across different types of institutions, and the development of retention models that integrate economic theories and psychosocial perspectives within college persistence frameworks. The extent of his inquiries has contributed to traditional as well as nontraditional lines of research on college student persistence. Nora has served on the editorial boards of Research in Higher Education, The Review of Higher Education, The Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, and The Journal of College Student Retention: Research and Theory.

Nora was inducted into the Class of 2009 as an AERA Fellow for his scholarship in the field of higher education. He is currently a member of a Technical Review Panel for the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) focused on the National Educational Longitudinal Study, 2000 – 2012. He has also served as consultant to the American Council of Education, National Advisory Board member for the evaluation of GEAR UP, reviewer for the National Research Council in Washington, DC. and evaluator for two major projects, the National Center for Urban Partnerships (NCUP) and the Houston Annenberg Challenge project. He has served as Content Expert on Higher Education, ERIC Steering Committee, Department of Education, 2004-2006; as a panel member on the National Research Council of the National Academies, Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships Program, 2005, 2006; a consultant on outcomes assessment for the Title V Project, Houston Community College System, 2004-2009; as consultant for the NPEC Project on Student Success funded by the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 2003; advisor to the Task Force on Student Enrollment at California State University-Long Beach, June 2002; advisor on standardized testing and minority college admissions and data analysis, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, New York, February-April, 2000; and has provided testimonial on factors affecting the retention of minority students before a panel for the Southern Education Foundation, State Capital, Austin, Texas, February, 1994.

Nora received his bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Texas at Austin, his Master of Science in Biology from Texas A&I University, Kingsville (now Texas A&M, Kingsville), and his Doctorate of Education in Higher Education from the University of Houston.

Eileen Galvez

Ms. Galvez is currently an Assistant Dean at Yale College and Director of Yale’s La Casa Cultural/Latino Cultural Center. Prior to Yale Ms. Galvez worked at Illinois Wesleyan University, where she has served as assistant director in the university’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion since 2013. In that role, she has overseen and coordinated programming for multi-ethnic, African American, Latino/a, Asian American, Native American, and LGBTQ students, and she has also coordinated its Summer Enrichment Program. Before going to Illinois Wesleyan, Galvez served as coordinator of leadership & diversity in the Office of Student Life at Austin Community College, where, among a long list of other duties, she developed and oversaw leadership programs for the college’s eight campuses and 40,000 students. Galvez earned both her M.Ed., in guidance and counseling, and her B.A., in political science, from Texas State University.

Ms. Galvez is a first- generation college graduate and second- generation immigrant.  Her passions lie in social justice and the impact that an education can have on individuals and community groups.  Galvez is currently pursuing a doctorate from Colorado State University.

Catherine J.K. Sandoval

Ms. Sandoval is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law with an emphasis on intellectual property.  Ms. Sandoval entered Yale University in 1978 and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies in 1984. Encouraged by her teachers and a Rhodes Scholar, she applied for and received a Rhodes scholarship— becoming the first female Latin-American recipient. Sandoval entered Oxford University in October 1984 and studied global politics, forming a thesis regarding U.S. and Western European policy toward Nicaragua and El Salvador. In 1987, she left Oxford for Stanford Law School. There, she served on the Stanford Law Review and the Stanford Journal of International Law. In 1990 after three years at Stanford, she completed the thesis work she had started as a Rhodes Scholar, and was awarded a Master of Letters in Politics from Oxford. The same year, she earned a law degree from Stanford Law School. Following Stanford, Sandoval served for a year in Pasadena as a law clerk to Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Sandoval is the first Hispanic commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission.  Ms. Sandoval served as Deputy Director of the Federal Communications Commission under the Clinton Administration.

Margaretha Bischoff, PhD.

Dr. Margaretha E. Bischoff served as the Dean for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at South Texas College before her retirement. She oversaw a team of 15 department chairs, including the Developmental English and Reading departments, and two assistant deans for Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts. The departments served 19 academic programs, including an Interdisciplinary degree, three Associates of Applied Science, and College Success. In this role, which she performed since 2004, she was instrumental in the initial creation, implementation, and submission of learning outcome results, and the continuous adjustment of teaching methodology as needed. She led the developmental acceleration initiatives for Reading and Developmental English and implemented the CTN Program as part of three founding Texas Community Colleges in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

She served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Developmental Advisory Committee in 2012 and 2013. She facilitates articulation agreements state-wide with institutions of Higher Education.

Dr. Bischoff holds a Doctorate and a Master of Arts in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. She started her education at Norwalk Community Technical College, Norwalk, CT, where she earned her Associates in General Studies. She joined South Texas College in 1999 as a Psychology instructor at the Mid Valley campus. In that role she also served as the academic advisor to the Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, which was followed by her appointment as the Chair of the Criminal Justice and Social Sciences department. During that time, she served as the President of the Council of Chairs and was part of decision-making committees such as the Curriculum and Program Review committee and the Institutional Effectiveness committee.

Lillian Gray

Lillian Diaz Gray is a community relations manager at Bank of America, previously an assistant Vice President and Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch in Austin. An alumnus of Yale University, Diaz Gray is actively involved in the community with ties to the Junior League of Austin, Con Mi Madre, The Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, Women in Finance and Insurance, The Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, Texas Wall Street Women, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Hispanic MBA’s, amongst others.

Jennifer Rice, J.D.

Jennifer Rice is a senior attorney adjudicator for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearing Operations. Jennifer analyzes cases to determine if fully favorable actions can be issued for individuals applying for Social Security Disability benefits. If appropriate, she prepares and signs fully favorable decisions as the final authorizing official. In addition, she renders professional legal advice and assistance to Administrative Law Judges.

Jennifer obtained her juris doctor degree from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from Baylor University.  Prior to working at the Social Security Administration, Jennifer was an associate attorney at the Malaise Law Firm where she represented clients applying for Social Security Disability before Administrative Law Judges.

As a senior attorney, Jennifer has served as a mentor to new decision writers and paralegals. She has also volunteered as a mentor to undergraduate students as part of the Baylor Mentoring Program. During law school, she was founder and president of the Hispanic Law Student Organization. While in college, Jennifer was in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Program (Honors College) and worked as a Spanish tutor for the Foreign Language Department.

Norman Eng, Ed.D.

Dr. Norman Eng is a Teacher Trainer, Education Professor, an Author of Teaching

Challenge, an Amazon best seller in seven education categories. He is the Founder & President, EDUCATIONxDESIGN, Inc., where he provides Instructional Training for Professors, teaches about online courses and consults on books and 1-on-1 coaching. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at The City College of New York, CUNY in Brooklyn.

Some of his books include: Presenting: A professor’s guide to powerful communication. (2019) Create an engaging syllabus: A concise, 7-step guide for professors. (2018). Teaching college: The ultimate guide to lecturing presenting, and engaging students. (2017).

He also has Journal articles such as: Eng, N., and Ornstein, A. (Eds.). (2016). Education Inequality: Opportunity and mobility. Journal of Social Issues, 7(4). Eng has an Education Doctorate in Instructional Leadership from St. John’s University, an MS Ed., Childhood Education, St. John’s University and a BS, in Marketing, St. John’s University

Veronica Cavazos

Veronica Cavazos started her career in education 16 years ago as a fourth-grade teacher in her hometown of Laredo. The four years she dedicated to working with English language learners gave her the opportunity to learn about the varied educational needs of recent immigrants and students from low-income households. After receiving a Master of Public Administration from Texas A&M International University, where she focused her research on the educational attainment of the border region’s population, Veronica turned her sights to higher education. In 2007, she began working for Laredo Community College as a Community Outreach Specialist and after a year of working directly with students, school districts and local agencies to increase student enrollment, she promoted to Director of Academic Advising and Student Success. In that role, she was responsible for leading all student recruitment, advising, counseling and retention efforts at the college.

In 2010, she and her family moved to Austin where she began working as the College Readiness Program Manager at Austin Partners in Education (APIE), a non-profit dedicated to serving the Austin Independent School District. After four years of developing and expanding APIE’s College Readiness Program, she promoted to Programs Director. She currently serves as the Associate Director where she leads all aspects of program operations and plays a key role in developing and executing the organization’s long-term vision.

Veronica lives in Round Rock with her husband and two children, Carlos and Alejandro. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting art museums, practicing photography and listening to live music. Veronica also holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael Guinn

Mr. Guinn has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Social Work from UT Arlington. Mike began writing prose and poetry inspired by his work as a child abuse investigator in 1997. He has successfully fused the art of Spokenword and social awareness in a way that has made him one of the most sought-after motivational speakers specializing in creative social awareness and youth empowerment. He is also the founder of the PSI Certified Fort Worth National Poetry Slams and the ForthWrite National Youth Poetry Team. Guinn is also the co-founder of the NATIONAL POETRY AWARDS, The North Texas Spokenword Awards, Texas Spokenword Awards and continues to host several ongoing weekly, monthly, and annual poetry open mics.

Mike has appeared, featured, judged, hosted, facilitated workshops and helped organize events for the Austin International Poetry Festival, The Valley International Poetry Festival, The Arkansas Grand Slam, and The World Poetry Slam Championships just to name a few. accomplishments include Two National slam finals appearances, 5 time National Poetry Slam Semi-finalist, Toronto International Slam Co Champ , 5 Time Fort Worth Grand Slam Champ, 13 time NPS Slam Poet, 4 time Austin International Poetry Slam Champion, Great Plains Pile Up Slam Champ, Last Poet Standing Slam Champ and several literary awards including judge for the poetry category for the 2016 NAACP Image Awards.

For the last eleven years Mike has coordinated and hosted the MLK Evening of Spoken word for the City of Arlington at UT Arlington. Mike has won several international competitions and is considered one of the best for creative writing and emotional leadership.

Esmeralda R. Macias

Esmeralda Macias is an English Instructor at South Texas College, and she has been part of the STC family for the past ten years. Esmeralda believes that each student is a unique individual who needs to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. She has a Master of Arts in Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Texas-Pan American, Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas-Pan American, and an Associates of Arts in the Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College. Most recently, Esmeralda received the South Texas College Faculty SpotLight Award for her excellent writing strategies, and she received a nomination for the Faculty of the Year Award. In addition, she received the Leadership and Service Award for her leadership and dedication to the CTN Program.

Esmeralda is passionate about programs that help student succeed; therefore, she was excited to earn the Professional Development Certificate (PDC) from the Puente Summer Institute (PSI) from the University of California at Berkeley, where she committed herself to support students in an intensive yearlong Integrated Reading and Writing Program. In 2017, Esmeralda received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) award for her excellence in teaching. She is also part of the Development Curriculum Board and was part of the Developmental Education Initiative (DEI) Program, which was a three-year effort to identify and develop programs that increase the number of community college students who complete preparatory classes and successfully move on to college-level studies. She has presented at several conferences including Catch the Next (CTN); Texas Community College Teachers Association (TCCTA); College Academic Support Programs (CASP); and Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Professional Development Program.

Cindy Yarely Marroquin-Garza, Ed.D.

Dr. Cindy Yarely Marroquin-Garza, 26 years old, was born in Rio Grande City and raised in Falcon Heights. She graduated from Roma High School in May 2012 and completed two years of basics at South Texas College during high school. She continued her higher education journey and transferred to Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. In the journey of obtaining a bachelor’s degree, she worked for the scholarship office for three years, starting as student worker but due to hard work and dedication, was promoted to administrative assistant. At TAMU-CC she participated in various club activities and was the Treasurer of the Health Science Association. She worked on an internship/practicum at Driscoll Children’s Hospital with the Injury Prevention Program and focused on the “Shattered Dreams” program during the Fall 2014 semester. This led to a completion of a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science with a minor in Business Administration in December 2014 from TAMU-CC. Cindy started the Masters of Public Administration program at TAMU-CC for a semester and transferred to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to finish the MPA degree, within a year. She obtained a Master in Public Administration degree from UTRGV June 2016. She applied and got accepted to Texas A&M University – Kingsville to start the Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in School Administration, June 2017 and obtained a doctoral degree on December 2019.

Cindy worked at South Texas College (Starr County Campus) as the Student Success Specialist and directed the first Student Center for the Ascenders Program, where students are advised, registered, and mentored from September 2015 – August 2018. She has participated in several community service events with the Ascenders Club students like the annual Fall Festival, the Relay for Life, and the Starr County Youth Fair.

She currently works at UTRGV as the Engaged Scholar & Artist Awards – Program Coordinator for the Engaged Scholarship and Learning Office. The Engaged Scholar & Artist Awards gives undergraduate students the opportunity to apply for funding for research, creative works, and community engagement projects.

Samantha R. Ackers, J.D.

Samantha is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana.

For over 25 years, she has worked as a Professor of Literature and Adult Educational Studies. Most recently in 2013, Professor Ackers began working at Austin Community College and Huston-Tillotson University – Austin, as an Adjunct Professor and Legal Coach/Consultant. Professor Ackers has shown a commitment to working with issues involving access to justice to the indigent and enjoys offering Pro Se’ Coaching Services to persons who cannot afford to hire an attorney for full representation. For the last 5 years, Samantha has been teaching college and career readiness /success courses at ACC which includes college students and dual-credit high school students. As an Adjunct Professor, she serves the community through outreach and education training sessions with Author/Professor Raymond Gerson geared toward preparing educators to teach the Student Success Courses. Working as an ACC Ascender Mentor and ACC Digital Faculty Scholar keep Samantha engaged in researching innovative methods to help students enjoy life while working towards reaching their goals.

Attorney Ackers is a Family Law lawyer specializing in children in the States care, child custody disputes, divorces involving spousal support, child support, business division, retirement division, and real property rights. Samantha has over 10+ years of experience in family law issues involving: child custody, child’s safety (immediate danger orders and status quo orders), and advocating for either side of family abuse restraining orders, elder abuse restraining orders and sexual abuse restraining orders. She has received the State Bar Pro-Bono Publico Award for Service and continues to work with underrepresented community members. Ms. Ackers also was the 2010 recipient of the Leadership Award for displaying a special commitment to Legal-Aid’s Domestic Violence Project and Family Law Pro Se Clinic. Samantha continues to regularly volunteer for Legal-Aid’s Domestic Violence Project.

Presently Samantha Serves as a Full-time Academic Coach at Austin Community College; Life Coach; Divorce Coach; Mediator; Adjunct Associate Professor English; Student Development Divisions; Mentor – ACC Ascender Program, and Past President – Adjunct Faculty Association – Austin Community College

Juan José Higa Jr.

Catch the Next – Ascender Alumnus

Juan José Higa is a CTN, Ascender Program Alumnus from Palo Alto College (PAC). While a student at PAC, he was actively involved on campus as Vice-President of the Student Government Association and as Vice-President of the Ascender Student Club. In his leadership roles, he was continuously involved in many college committees and spoke to large audiences. He started the program in 2012 and later graduated with his Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration in 2015. In January 2016, he transferred to The University of Texas at San Antonio – UTSA where he pursued a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies and graduated in December 2018.

In August 2016, he published Student Engagement & Leadership Manual – Running a Successful Ascender Club. This Student Engagement Manual helps students in the Ascender Program to be proactive, engaged, and become leaders in the institutions and in the community. Juan was selected twice from a nationwide pool of applicants to represent PAC and UTSA at the Hispanic Association of College and Universities (HACU) Annual Conference. He has also been awarded twice the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges Award which only a select group of students is called forward to accept. It is one of the most prestigious awards the academic community can bestow – the outstanding campus leaders of the year.

One of Juan’s fundamental goals is to continue working with First-Generation college students as he is first in his family to attend college. His prior work in higher education includes more than six years of experience working with a diverse population of traditional and nontraditional students in the higher education sector. He is skilled in student counseling & support, interpersonal communication, educational guidance, caseloads, nonprofit organizations, communication, & event management. He currently serves as an Academic Advisor I at The University of Texas at San Antonio – UTSA and as an Executive Assistant with Catch the Next, Inc.

Veronica Gonzalez

Catch the Next-Ascender Alumna

Veronica Gonzalez is a CTN Ascender Program Alumna from Palo Alto College (PAC). At 18, pregnant with her first child, Veronica made the promise to herself that when her daughter started school, she would, too. In the next few years, as a stay-at-home mom for her daughter and son, she received her GED.

She enrolled at Palo Alto College in 2013 and became a part of the Catch the Next family. During her time at PAC, she served as secretary for the Ascender Student Club. Veronica graduated in 2015 with her Associates degree in Political Science.  In 2016, she was the first CTN Ascender student to graduate from a four-year university receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M University in San Antonio. She was admitted into St Mary’s University School of Law in 2018.

“The CTN/Ascender courses and instructors gave me a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that would help me throughout my college experience. The tours to different universities helped me understand my many options for transfer and helped me select the perfect university to transfer to. Because of the guidance and support of CTN/Ascender, I was able to earn an associate’s as well as a bachelor’s degree in a total of three years and four months.”

Manuel Gonzalez

Manuel Gonzalez is a CTN Ascender Program Alumnus from South Texas College (STC).

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