The Pasos Program at El Paso Community College has been named a finalist for the State’s Star Awards by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The Pasos Program is a supplementary instructional program where professors are trained to implement culturally relevant teaching (CRT).
The Pasos Program has existed at EPCC since 2012 as the Puente Project. The Puente Project is a program out of California that seeks to encourage an increase in college enrollment.
The Puente Project was at EPCC until 2017 until EPCC created their own model and called it the Pasos Program.
Richard Yanez, an English professor at EPCC is the current Team Leader and has been with the group since 2012 and is making sure to implement CRT in his classes. CRT is used in English, education, and developmental courses, and will expand to speech and government classes moving forward.
CRT makes subjects covered in classrooms more relatable to students, the motto for the program is to use “population, location, and stories for student success.”
Professors can be trained with CRT by attending “cariño” training, a half day of development that is open to anyone including students.
The next session will be held on October 12 and is free of charge.
Students are also encouraged to join the Paso Program’s club which is also open to anyone. The club participates in community involvement, fundraisers, and take transfer trips in the summer so that students can see their options after EPCC.
Highschool students can also get involved in the Pasos program through dual credit classes and at workshops that take place at different campuses, 2 to 3 times a semester.
The Texas Higher Education plan was adopted in the year 2000 and outlines goals for middle schools, high schools, and community colleges to strive for a highly educated population in Texas.
The basis of the plan is that Texas’ economy will be better off if more of the population is educated.
The main goal of the plan is the “60x30 strategy” which intends for 60% of Texans aged 25-34 to have a certificate or degree by the year 2030.
The goal focuses on the 25-34 age range because that age range is the best indicator for the economic future of Texas.
The second goal is for 550,000 students to complete some sort of certificate or degree by the year 2030.
This plan includes all age groups and demographic so Texas can have a high number of overall degrees or certifications in the state, not just a percentage of a certain population.
The third goal for the programs is to identify marketable skills and emphasizing the value of higher education in the workforce. This lends to the overarching goal of wanting to ensure a prosperous economy for Texas in the future.
The last goal involves Texas public institutions and other stakeholders keeping undergraduate student’s loan debt from exceeding 60 percent of their expected first-year wages once they graduate. This is done to keep graduates from being financially crushed by overwhelming college debt.
The way the Pasos Program intends to reach the goals of the Texas Higher Education plan is by bridging generations of students and making sure all demographics can obtain a degree. They also focus on bringing together families which reduces “brain drain” in the state.
The community events address the need of giving back to your community, even after graduation, which is better for Texas in the long run.
Ultimately, the Pasos Program stresses the importance of getting a college degree, especially if you are the first in your family to get a degree.