CTN Fall Institute: October 25-27, Austin

The Catch the Next Ascender Fall Seminar and Transformative Teaching Institute “Advancing Education Through Institutional Change” will be held on October 25-27 at the For the City Center in Austin. The Fall Seminar focuses on strengthening the college teams and giving participants the opportunity to troubleshoot issues they face at this stage in the program. Sessions are offered to address issues in retention, team dynamics, event coordination, and advising and mentor engagement among other topics. The Transformative Teaching Track is a two-part, two-day experiential and intensive training in classroom strategies, co-curricular design and team building with an emphasis on culturally responsive practice. The training is tailored to meet the needs of faculty who wish to play a leadership role in response to House Bill 2223 and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60x30 campaign.

A reception featuring CTN Author Mentor, Sergio Troncoso, and keynote speaker, Dr. Rogelio Saenz, will be held on the evening of the 25th.

The following are the speakers and entertainers for the event:

Sergio Troncoso is the author of The Last Tortilla and Other Stories, Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, and the novels, The Nature of Truth and From This Wicked Patch of Dust. He co-edited Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the NarcoViolence. Troncoso has taught writing workshops at the Yale Writers’ Conference and the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center. He is a member of the board of councilors and an officer of the Texas Institute of Letters. Recently he has served as one of three national judges for the PEN/ Faulkner Award for Fiction and as final judge in the essay category for the New Letters Literary Awards. His next book, At the Edge of the Edge: A Collection of Short Fiction, is forthcoming from Cinco Puntos Press in 2019.

Rogelio Sáenz is 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 American 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.

Maria Martha Chavez is Chief Executive Officer for Catch the Next, Inc. Dr. Chavez Brummel is a sociologist with a history of research, 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 Masters of Philosophy and Doctorate 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. She also established the Asian Chicano Cultural Center, The Chicano Boricua Studies program (that has evolved into the American Studies, Race, Ethnicity and Migration major), the 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 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 engagement coach and member of the Knowledge Development Working Group.

Allegra Villarreal is Director of Professional Development for CTN. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College. She enrolled in community college after receiving her GED at age 16 and ultimately transferred to the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, where she would earn a joint honors B.A. in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies.  After graduating she enrolled at Oxford University, shifted her academic focus, and was awarded an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 2008. She taught ESOL in Mexico and the Czech Republic before returning to the U.S. where she taught English at Mount Hood Community College and South Texas College before joining ACC.

Frank Savina leads the design, development, and implementation of the pathway to Calculus for the UT Dana Center Mathematics Pathways, an initiative to modernize entry-level college mathematics programs through working with states, universities, and colleges. He presents findings at national and regional conferences of professional mathematics organizations to inform the mathematics community about best practices in teaching gateway mathematics students and collaborates with higher education services faculty at two- and four-year institutions.

Before Joining the Dana Center, Frank had 20 years of teaching experience at the university and high school levels. In addition to serving for five years as a mathematics professor at El Paso Community College, he was an adjunct math faculty member and director of the Educational Talent Search Program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Most notably, Frank was the first Mathematics Department chair for the first early college in El Paso, where he was selected as Teacher of the Year. Mission Early College High School went on to become a National Blue Ribbon School during his tenure.

Frank received both his M.A.T., Mathematics and his B.S., Mathematics from the University of Texas at El Paso


Dr. Reyna is Co- Chair and Assistant Professor of Counseling & Student Development at Palo Alto College.  She is a TX Licensed Professional Counselor and has worked as a counselor/therapist in community and mental health agencies, and in private practice.  She has worked at PAC since 1991 where she began her career in higher education as a counselor and instructor for a program assisting single parents, pregnant women, and women re-entering the workforce.  Dr. Reyna has since worked as a coordinator of grant funded programs, tenured counselor/instructor of Student Development courses, and departmental chair. Dr. Reyna obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University.  She earned her doctorate in Educational Administration at Baylor University.

Alejandra Polcik is currently employed at Austin Community College in the office of Student Engagement and Success as Coordinator of Hispanic Outreach Projects. Ms. Polcik is responsible for developing culturally and linguistically effective outreach strategies to reach diverse communities. These strategies include media (radio, TV, newspapers), social media, websites and coordinating events to target populations. Ms. Polcik’s previous job was at Austin Independent School District. Her title was Multicultural Outreach Coordinator where she interacted with diverse communities, especially non-English speakers throughout the district. She communicated with students and their families about all the academic resources available to them. She promoted parental engagement using different channels of communication, such as a radio show, events, and informational booths. She developed editorial pieces for magazines, met with community leaders, managed the English course Maestro en Casa Program, and ensured that families were aware of the programs AISD provided. She is very passionate about working with diverse communities. Before AISD, she was at ACC for 5 years in the position of Spanish Media Coordinator with emphasis in the Hispanic market. Her duties included print and broadcast advertising, publication production, media relations, translating strategic college marketing communications, and communications with culturally sensitive and appropriate methods.

Lisa Trevino earned her English B.A., at the University of Texas San Antonio and her M.A. at Our Lady of the Lake University. Lisa Trevino teaches developmental writing, college level composition and literature courses at Palo Alto College. She has been a member of the CTN Ascender team for the last three years. Previously, Ms. Trevino served as Academic Program Coordinator for the Academic Support Center and the Academic Testing Center at Northeast Lakeview College. Ms Trevino was responsible for the hiring of employees, managed the budget, and implemented training for the faculty. She also served as academic liaison between the faculty and staff on campus and the tutors and staff of the Academic Testing Center to determine the needs of the students to promote student success. Ms. Trevino has also been a lecturer at the UTSA Writing Program where she taught college-level writing sections I & II.

Debra McBeath is Director of Communications and Engagement and Managing Editor of the CTN newsletter. She is a former adjunct professor at Palo Alto College in San Antonio. She taught the Ascender Integrated Reading, Writing, and English Composition I sequence. Her classes were linked with SDEV classes in the fall, and Psychology and Mexican American Studies in the spring. She was part of the activity planning committee at Palo Alto College and received the Star of Appreciation from the Palo Alto Ascender Club. She is a member of the Committee that presented at the Alamo College District to the Deans and Vice Presidents of Academic Success when Palo Alto College brought the program to its campus. Debra was an adjunct professor at Southwest Texas Junior College (Eagle Pass Campus) where she taught various freshman and sophomore courses including freshman composition, remedial writing, world literature, and British literature. She is a retired high school English teacher of 35 years, teaching all levels of English, journalism (yearbook and newspaper), and photography. She received her master’s degree in English and her bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Lydia CdeBaca is Director of the Teaching and Learning for Student Success Peer Mentoring Program and Operations Manager for Catch the Next. Dr. CdeBaca is committed to improving educational outcomes for underserved students and has a deep and abiding passion for community-based education initiatives, particularly those serving adult learners. CdeBaca received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English with graduate certificates in Mexican American Studies and Indigenous Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to joining Catch the Next, CdeBaca served as Associate Chair of the English Department, Program Coordinator for Humanities and Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, and Director of the Mexican American/Latino Studies Program at Houston Community College. She maintains her teaching profile by continuing to teach in the Ascender and Adult Education programs at Austin Community College.

San Antonio natives Juan and Armando Tejeda perform traditional Conjunto music with button accordion and bajo sexto. Juan Tejeda incorporates the rhythm of Tejano music into all aspects of his life. A writer, ex-jefe danzante Azteca, arts administrator, educator, editor and publisher, Juan has been directing and developing the first Conjunto music program at the college / university level in the nation since 2002.

Juan has taught Bicultural Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is a former tenured full-time faculty member at Palo Alto College, where he taught Mexican American Studies and Performing Arts for our CTN program. Juan has written and lectured extensively on the history and socio-cultural significance and importance of Tejano and Conjunto music. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Bicultural Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Juan and his wife, Anisa Onofre, are co-publishers/editors of the Azltan Libre Press, an independent publishing house dedicated to Xican@ Literature and Art. Armando Tejeda is a professor of Education at Texas A&M, San Antonio. He is also finishing his doctorate in Education at the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio and has been a long-time musician and bajo sexto player who has performed with Valerio Longoria, Santiago Jimenez, Jr., Conjunto Aztlan, Los Conjunto Kingz de Flavio Longoria, Jesse Borrego y su Conjunto, and many others.



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