Talent Search opens doors of opportunity
HOUSTON – The primary mission of San Jacinto College (SJC) is student success, and one resource that helps students succeed is Talent Search, an innovative program that provides assistance to students from “disadvantaged backgrounds” – targeted low-income and minority students who have potential, but lack opportunity.
Talent Search provides academic, career, and financial counseling to students as they progress from middle school through high school and on to college. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education in either four- or five-year cycles. The SJC North campus, designated as a Hispanic and minority serving college, was first awarded a four-year Talent Search grant in 2002. The grant was awarded again for a five-year cycle in 2006. Based on continued positive results, the North campus was recently awarded the Talent Search grant again for another five-year cycle. The amount of the grant for the first year of the current cycle is $230,000.
“We are thrilled that the Talent Search grant will be available once again,” commented Cynthia Salazar, the SJC coordinator who directs the many activities and services funded by the grant. “We have hundreds of student success stories that would not be possible if it were not for Talent Search.”
One such student is Tania Lopez, who personifies how Talent Search opens doors of opportunity. Tania started in the program in 2006 as a bright seventh-grader at C.E. King Middle School.
“Talent Search holds a very special place in my heart,” she commented. “My parents came from Mexico, and although education is a priority for them they couldn’t always help me or provide answers to my questions. That’s where Talent Search made a difference. The program showed me that getting a college degree was possible, that there’s more out there than what’s available in my neighborhood, that paying for college even with a very limited income is possible, and that there are people in education that truly care and will go above and beyond for students.”
Tania particularly liked the program’s career exploration activities. “We met different professionals from so many backgrounds – news reporters, astronauts, doctors, and even talk show hosts,” she said. “I remember the Talent Search career day, a big event where professionals shared first-hand information about their careers. I don’t know how Mrs. Cyndi got so many people to visit us but she did. She always said anything is possible through hard work and dedication. It inspired me, just knowing that she believes in you.”
Because of the guidance and encouragement she received through Talent Search, Tania entered C.E. King High School as a dual credit student, taking various college courses through San Jacinto College. She graduated from C.E. King during her junior year, and concurrently earned a pharmacy technology occupational certificate from SJC North. She is continuing her medical studies at the North campus as a Licensed Vocational Nursing student. After graduating from SJC in August, she plans to transfer to the University of Texas to earn a bachelor degree in nursing on her way to working ultimately as either an emergency room nurse, or a life-flight nurse.
The ambitious young student is grateful for the assistance she has received through Talent Search. “If it wasn’t for the program I don’t know where I would be,” she said. “I think college would seem impossible, it would be an unattainable goal and I wouldn’t know what else was out there.”
Talent Search provided Tania more than just help with academics. “I have learned people skills, etiquette, how to be professional,” she commented. “I’ve learned about our history, and about different cultures. Most importantly we learned about our own capabilities and how to make our dreams come true. This program has helped so many students like me who thought education was impossible. The Talent Search message is that nothing is impossible.”
About San Jacinto College: Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for 50 years. The College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of more than 29,000 students in over 140 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career-track choices. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SanJacintoCollege.
Photo: Thanks to Talent Search, San Jacinto College student Tania Lopez is pursuing her career goal of serving as a vocational nurse. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing department.