UD’s College Citizens Program to Serve First-Generation High School Students DFW

The College Citizens program allows students to experience UD’s academics and culture in high school. Photo courtesy of University of Dallas.

In July, the University of Dallas will host the first session of its new College Citizens program. 12 up-and-coming high school students from the DFW area will spend three weeks at UD, take an interdisciplinary liberal arts course, and experience life on a college campus for free.

Dr. Matthew Spring, Affiliate English Teacher and Director of Academic Success, has been working on developing a program for underserved high school students in the Dallas area since he started working at UD there. at the age of 12.

Spring saw similar programs at other universities, such as the College of St. Benedict, where he worked as a residence coordinator for a few summers before attending graduate school.

“It seems like a great fit for UD, especially when you look at the University of Dallas seal and the amount of Texas embedded in the seal,” Spring said.

“I thought it would be a wonderful way for UD to really extend its reach to the local community, especially since we have this great education program here.”

In the summer of 2020, Spring began working on a grant proposal for the Teagle Foundation with Dr. Carmen Newstreet, Associate Professor of Education, and Ms. Theresa Guin in the Advancement Office.

Newstreet said, “Together we explored Martha Nussbaum’s concept of selflessly educating a global citizen and brought together some of UD’s brightest minds to help us determine a curriculum plan that would align with the core of the UD – science and mathematics, modern foreign language, theology, philosophy, history/politics, fine arts, philosophy and English.

In November 2020, they received a Teagle Planning Grant. In the spring of 2021, other faculty members joined to help design the program, and Dr. José Espercueta, chair of the modern languages ​​department and associate professor of Spanish, took over as co-author. implementation grant.

In November 2021, they receive the scholarship and Bryan De La Cruz, UD class of 2020 and new academic success specialist, is hired in January.

“I would really like to point out how collaborative it has been, not just in the development of the program, but in getting the administrators involved from the start – the advancement has been really helpful,” Espercueta said.

The program was designed to be interdisciplinary, touching on all aspects of UD’s core, to introduce students to a liberal arts education.

“In our initial conversations, the team was united in its commitment to the universal value of liberal education and its desire to bring UD’s distinctive approach to education to new groups of students in our surrounding community,” said Dr. Mark Petersen, associate professor of history and one of the professors who worked on the program design with Esperigueta.

Esperigueta will teach the course with the help of two UD graduate students who will help revise course materials, lead workshops on reading, writing, listening, and speaking, as well as conduct Socratic seminar discussions.

In order to fully introduce students to a liberal arts education, the program will give students the opportunity to volunteer in the DFW community and participate in extracurricular activities.

“I think it’s important that they explore the relationship between liberal arts education and civic engagement and leadership,” De La Cruz said.

“Right now, we are working with St. Vincent de Paul and Dallas Refugee as two potential programs we partner with this summer and possibly throughout this school year.”

De La Cruz will be in charge of daily programming. Students will take field trips in the DFW area to museums and events, as well as participate in on-campus mentorship and residence life activities.

The entire program is free for students, which includes accommodation and meals, the course, excursions, extracurricular activities and guest lecturers. The course credit students receive will count as general education credit and if students choose to apply to UD, De La Cruz strives to have priority registration for the First Generation Constantin Scholarship.

After the program ends, De La Cruz will continue to be a resource for students for college and scholarship applications and strategies for succeeding in college as first-generation students.

According to Spring, the committee will review the program annually to ensure that it continues to be relevant to the course and the students, as well as to the requirements of the Teagle Foundation.

Spring added that he hopes the program will help the statewide effort to earn more Texas college degrees, called 60 by 30-60% of all Texas residents with at least a bachelor’s degree. 2030.

“We’re helping more students not only get into college, but also graduate from college,” Spring said. “That, practically speaking, is good for the state, good for the country, good for [the students]families.”

The expected benefits of the program are multiple and all positive, according to Esperigueta. Her hope is to continue to improve the program each summer to better serve the DFW community, as well as the university.

“For me, it’s more about inspiring students to continue on this journey of education and through the lens of the liberal arts, seeing what the impact is on our world today,” De La Cruz said. “To know that this trip, it is available and easily accessible… So that there is no gap in knowledge when they arrive on the first day that they have caught up with everyone, that they are at the same level, same field game. And that, for me, is the biggest opportunity for growth.


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