CTN hosted a virtual Spring Ascender Student Transfer Motivational Conference on Friday, April 30th. The theme for the seminar was “A Virtual Journey of Transformation,” and over 30 participants attended. The seminar began at 9:00 with a welcome by CEO Dr. Maria Chavez who shared her educational journey and emphasized the importance of an education. She told the students, “When you decide to graduate, your achievement is not for you alone, but for your family and our community. You are the leaders of tomorrow. You are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

This was followed by a session led by Stacy Ybarra, CTN’s Director of Student Engagement, who shared information about the transfer process in her presentation titled “The Transfer Process Made Easy.”  Ybarra shared the transfer process for Texas A&M, as well as information about scholarships and financial aid. After a short break with a door prize won by Nova Fritts, ACC Master AOS Advisor, Ariel Flores, CTN Director of Communications and Engagement, Debra McBeath and Dr. Anna Alaniz, STC instructor and Ascender Program Director, led their session titled “Career Options.” Flores spoke about wages matched with degrees as well as the decrease in unemployment rates for those with higher degrees.  McBeath shared specific websites for career options and Dr. Alaniz spoke about soft and hard skills and the importance of both.

A game of Kahoots was played with Carmen as the winner.

After lunch, Stacy Ybarra shared financial information and planning in her presentation titled “Financial Literacy.” She began her presentation with a volunteer participant who went through Texas Reality Check with her. She shared information with the participants about credit reports, credit cards and financial literacy, as well as several helpful documents. Ariel Flores then shared web sites such as nerdwallet and YNAB.

 Next, Dr. Alaniz introduced CTN’s alumni panel and asked each participant to talk about themselves. The first panelist was Armando Sanchez, former ACC student, who is now attending Texas State University majoring in political science and will soon be starting grad school. He said, “I never imagined myself in college, but the Ascender program gave me the idea that I could do it. It was the best decision I ever made.” Armando plans to run for office and “impact change for everyone.”

Monica Gonzalez, former STC student, was the next panelist. She is working on her bachelor’s with an English major and a criminal justice minor. She told participants how Dr Alaniz “got her into reading,” and commented that she would not be where she was now without the Ascender program. She hopes someday to get her doctorate degree.

The third panelist was Sandra Fernandez, former ACC student, who is now in her first semester at UT at Austin  and working towards a career in social work. She said the Ascender program “helped me take stones away from my path. Sometimes little things can stop you. I now feel I can navigate the system.” She told participants, “It is important to ask for help” and to remember “we can create our own story.”

The next panelist was Stephanie Lopez, former STC student, who is now at Texas A&M in Kingsville working on a degree in Business Administration with a possibility of going into the Human Resources field. She said the person who has most helped her keep going is her dad. “My dad got his Associate’s degree and challenged me to get my Bachelor’s and now I am challenging my little brother to do even better.”

The final panelist was Edward Rodriguez, former PAC student, who is currently a junior at Texas A&M San Antonio. He is working towards a Business Administration degree and hopes someday to open a restaurant and bar. He told participants, “Before I joined the Ascender program, I was very quiet. I was timid with people who were educated. But by traveling with this program, I got to meet people, and I didn’t put myself down any more. It was collectively; it was a minority feeling. This program gave me a sense of family. I wasn’t alone.” He offered this advice to participants, “Detours do happen. Surround yourself with people who keep you motivated,”

The seminar ended with links to information for Career Services on the Ascender students’ campuses, and a final door prize won by Monica Gonzalez.

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