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Continuing and Innovative Education, The University of Texas at Austin

Transcriptions - Linda Glessner

Linda Glessner:

Welcome everyone. The day is finally here. I know a lot of planning has been put into this moment and we are looking forward to the program today. I am Linda Glessner, Senior Associate Dean of Continuing and Innovative Education at The University of Texas at Austin. I just want to take a moment to welcome all of our students, their parents out there in the audience, educators and many guests, including senators, commissioners, vice presidents, foundation members, government relations, deans and directors to our 25th annual Exemplary Migrant Student Recognition Ceremony.

I also want to echo the earlier sentiments about Mariachi de Oro. This is a fabulous group, and under the direction of Joseph Baird of Crocket High School, I can only say “Fantastico.”

So why are we here today? We are here today to recognize and congratulate our 2011 exemplary migrant students for their academic achievements in earning high school credit through the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program; for being able to overcome the many difficulties that they face in the migrant lifestyle; for fulfilling leadership roles in the schools they have attended across the country; and for helping others in service in the many communities they’ve lived in.

Not only do I want to congratulate these students, but I also congratulate the parents and educators that are here today to witness this celebration. Many of you have come to support your children. For that, we are very grateful. I also know many of you have come from as far away as El Paso, Eagle Pass, Mission, and again we are very grateful to you for making that journey to Austin to be here today. Without your support none of this could have been possible.

Last year we celebrated Continuing & Innovative Education’s 100th year. Now in the first year of our next 100 hundred years, I think this is an appropriate time to tell you about some “firsts” of our Migrant Student Program.

• In 1988, at the end of the first year of operations, this program received its first national award:  Innovations in Continuing Education awarded by the University Professional & Continuing Education Association, fondly known as UPCEA to us in the continuing education world.
• In 1996, the program received UPCEA’S Significant Achievement in Independent Study Award.
• This year, just a week ago in Toronto Canada, this program was awarded the National UPCEA Outstanding Program Award for Credit.

It’s always nice to receive awards for this program, but I think the most prized awards are the successes of our students. Many of today’s exemplary students will be the first in their families to graduate from high school and they’ll be the first in their families to attend college.

I also want to share some significant “first time” achievements of our former exemplary students.

• In, 2004 Adrian Flores was the first of our students to graduate from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism, and he was the first to attend law school at Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio.
• In 2007, Roman Hernandez was the first to receive a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
• In 2008, Atanacio Gomez was the first to attend Texas A&M where he is now finishing a degree in biomedicine in hopes of becoming a doctor.
• In 2009, Edwardo Olivera was the first to earn a Master’s Degree in engineering management from The University of Texas-Pan Am.
• Most recently, in 2010, Sofia Velazquez became the first to attend Harvard University, where she is a freshman studying law and business.

So, what do these first-time achievements mean? They mean we are breaking new ground here at UT and it means our students are becoming trailblazers in a global society. What better story to tell then transforming lives for the betterment of society? I think our motto here at The University of Texas at Austin is very appropriate: What Starts Here Changes the World.

This past week, when I was in Toronto, I and my colleagues had the opportunity to listen to Eric Liu. Eric is a noted author, civic entrepreneur and speechwriter for Bill Clinton, our former president. The subject was imagination—and the ability and power to unlock all possibilities through imagination.

I would imagine that many of you today are wondering and imagining what your futures are going to look like. I would say to you that you can unlock all possibilities by continuing your education and going on to college; by building a lifetime network of family and friends; by role-modeling for others, younger and less fortunate than you; and, perhaps most importantly, by serving the needs of your community, which I know so many of you are currently doing in addition to your studies. And I applaud you for that.

In closing, I’d like to say that I hope I’m the first among many to invite to apply for admission to The University of Texas at Austin.

So, without further ado, I’m going to turn this program over to a young lady who has given this program her heart and soul: Luz Hinojosa, the assistant coordinator of the Migrant Student Program. Luz, who many of you may know, earned her Master’s Degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the university just last year while holding down a very vigorous work schedule. She has been working with us for 7 years and is a former migrant student, so she understands this journey all too well.