Student Success in Higher Education

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South Texas College is one of the first institutions of higher education in the nation to be recertified with a Seal of Excelencia designation. Excelencia in Education is a national organization that promotes higher education and institutional transformation to serve Latino students.

At the announcement and award ceremony, live streamed from Washington, D.C., STC joined nine other first-time designees and eight other colleges in recertification. This marked the fourth year that Excelencia, a Latina-led organization founded to accelerate Latino student success in higher education, has offered the certificate.

“The Seal of Excelencia exemplifies our dedication and commitment to creating a college-going culture for our Hispanic students,” said STC President Dr. Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D., who attended the announcement. “We are creating bold solutions and fostering innovation to ensure we provide life-changing education and training. And to be one of the first institutions of higher education to receive this recertification is an honor and validation that we are moving in the right direction.”

In 2019, the college was the only higher education institution in the Rio Grande Valley to receive the designation for demonstrating a significant success in serving Latino students, according to Excelencia.

STC remains one of only two institutions in the RGV to hold this designation.

Excelencia in Education created the Seal of Excelencia to differentiate institutions that became Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) because of demography and geography from those that are Hispanic-Serving because of intentionality and impact,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia. “The Seal provides a road map for all institutions, led by data, practice, and leadership, that does not end with the certification. It supports a path to intentionally making progress in serving Latino students.”

In a 2020 study published by Excelencia in Education, STC, with a Hispanic student population of 95%, is ranked No. 3 nationwide and No. 1 in Texas for enrolling and graduating Latinos. STC is also the top producer of registered nurses among community colleges in the state.

STC has also been recognized for fostering international partnerships with schools and factories across the border to expand its training, being a national leader in dual enrollment offerings — with 21 partnering school districts — and offering a Promise Program that will provide tuition-free opportunities.

Further, STC is a recognized leader in competency-based education, which allows students to work toward bachelor’s degrees quicker by utilizing skills gained in the workforce for college credit. Finally, STC is expanding its course offerings with new programs, including cosmetology, aviation, corrections officer training, and agriculture that are set to begin in the upcoming spring and fall semesters.

“We’re about to celebrate 30 years of service and excellence as an institution and this recertification is a culmination of our hard work, dedication to our students, and commitment to our Starr and Hidalgo County communities,” said STC Board of Trustee Chair Rose Benavidez. “Our responsibility to serve our Hispanic population — and all students — is built into every decision we make to ensure they succeed. While our population is still underrepresented, STC’s steadfast perseverance to provide high-quality education is breaking barriers.”

To learn more about STC and its programs and services, visit southtexascollege.edu.

Amanda Sotelo