Look College hosts retreat for high school counselors

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The Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University hosted 33 high school counselors at the fall Engineering High School Counselor’s Retreat on Nov. 18 and 19.

Dr. Sonia Garcia, senior director of access and inclusion program in Engineering Academic and Student Affairs (EASA), organized a retreat for Engineering Aggies Gaining Experience Programs (ENGAGE) partner high schools. Access and Inclusion’s objective is to work with counselors under ENGAGE with the end goal of increasing the enrollment numbers of underrepresented minority students in the college of engineering.

The purpose of the retreat was to have counselors learn about the myriad of programs offered, culture and future plans of the college, to help the college administrators, faculty and staff learn how to improve the outreach and recruitment of underrepresented minority students and to build partnerships between the Look College and various high schools in Texas. 

“This retreat provided high school counselors a better understanding of how the Look College prepares and will be preparing the next generation of engineers,” said Garcia. “A partnership between high schools and the Look College is critical.”

Engineering Aggies Gaining Experience Programs is a new program under Access & Inclusion that aims to increase the number of underrepresented ethnic groups in the Look College. It works to expose high school students to engineering programs and create a direct pathway for students at Texas high schools to Texas A&M.

“Students are asking about engineering and I didn’t have much information to share,” said Fon’Shall Watts, a counselor from the Brennan ISD. “I’m learning about the programs so I can better inform my students.”

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During the retreat, counselors learned about the Look College’s 25 by 25 initiative from Dr. Valerie Taylor, senior associate dean for EASA, and how the college of engineering is transforming engineering education. The initiative aims to increase enrollment to 25,000 students by the year 2025. They also attended presentations on initiatives from access and inclusion, women in engineering, preK-12 outreach and Halliburton global engineering programs.

The counselors visited with each of the engineering departments and toured several of the engineering buildings on campus. During the two-day retreat, they met with program directors, deans and advisers. Counselors had an opportunity to hear and discuss admissions policies, the admissions process, and the importance of meeting the application deadline, as well as financial aid and scholarships offered at the college and university level.

Angella Ford, a counselor from Victory Early College in the Aldine ISD which is a recent new ENGAGE Partner School, has already found success with the ENGAGE programs. Two of her students have been accepted into the college of engineering and she credits the ENGAGE programs with helping them reach this achievement. Ford said the information she learns at the counselor’s retreat has helped her in her advising of students and the application process.

“This has made the process click for me,” Ford said. “As a counselor, I help students start the process, but now I can help them understand that once they’re accepted, there are programs to help them finish.”