Three representatives from Huston-Tillotson University (HT) led the Building Bridges conversation on February 10th, a Second Friday which always spotlights the “school to profession pipeline”. Autumn Caviness, Director of the Center of Academic Excellence, Rachel Kunz, Assistant Vice President – Adult Degree Program, and Dr. Dominique Bowman Vining, Director of Community Engagement and Public Health Initiatives each took a moment to touch on how HT addresses recruitment, enrollment and employment, respectively.
Ms. Caviness introduced the community members to Huston-Tillotson’s annual Hackathon, occurring March 11th and 12th, which provides high school and undergraduate students of color the opportunity to innovate and create mobile apps for business, health, entertainment, and education. In addition to the benefit students experience through mentorship and exposure during the Hackathon, she also explained the event is both an investment into education for future HT students who will be professionally marketable in an ever-expanding technology market and a successful recruitment tool for the university. To make the Hackathon a success, HT is calling for Austinites with developer, designer, or innovator-related experience to contribute their time and talent to the cause as mentors during the second weekend in March.
Ms. Kunz followed by sharing the offerings and features of Huston-Tillotson’s Adult Degree Program, which many community members were excited to learn about. Her highlight, aside from the associates and various bachelors degrees offered, was the joint teaching certification and bachelor of arts in education program. After an audience question concerning the need to equip teachers to work effectively in urban schools, President and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University, Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette shared that a partnership between HT and a local charter school is in development. President Burnette was proud to announce that the very purpose of the partnership is to cultivate teachers who will improve urban edu cation.
The baton was finally handed to Dr. Vining, who circulated information for upcoming events such as the ongoing “Health Disparities and Lunch and Learn Series” taking place at the Sandra Joy Anderson Community Health & Wellness Center and Dell Medical School throughout the spring. President Burnette brought the morning’s meeting to a close by reminding all in attendance of how essential community support is to high quality education. She shared that 60% of HT students are Pell grant recipients and that the university is committed to educating first generation students as well as those without financial means to afford higher education. In order to continue doing so, President Burnette asked that engaged citizens, like those present at Building Bridges, support their tradition of education by attending Huston-Tillotson’s upcoming gala and by intentionally making commitment to community contagious to their spheres of influence.