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Project GRAD Alumnus Chooses UST

As a student at Reagan High School, Fernando Moreno didn’t think much about college. But after attending two Project GRAD College Institutes and being urged by his high school counselor to go on an overnight visit to the University of St. Thomas, Moreno said he knew immediately this was where he wanted to be.

Project GRAD, which stands for Graduation Really Achieves Dreams, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase high school graduation and college attendance rates by addressing issues that can hinder the achievement of economically disadvantaged and minority students. Houston Independent School District partners with Rice University, Texas Southern University, the University of Houston-Downtown, the University of Texas Health Science Center and the University of St. Thomas to host Project GRAD.

Beginning July 11, about 70 Houston Independent School District (HISD) high school students will participate in a Project GRAD College Institute on the University of St. Thomas campus.  The goal of the Institute is to familiarize students with a college environment by exploring potential career options and strengthening their academic and leadership skills.  Students who complete two summer institutes can earn a Project GRAD $4,000 college scholarship.

The UST Project GRAD Liberal Arts Institute is one of 13 Institutes taking place in Houston. The students spend three weeks at UST taking classes in literature, website construction, debate and college and career planning.  They utilize the campus facilities like regular college students.

Moreno participated in the Project GRAD Rice University Advanced Mathematics Institute for two summers which gave him academic preparation for college and provided him with a $4,000 scholarship to come to UST. Five students are currently attending UST after participating in the Project GRAD Summer Institutes and receiving their scholarship.

“The Project GRAD math classes at the summer institute got me ready for my high school classes the following school year,” said Moreno.  “Project GRAD helped me because it prepared me academically and financially.”

Moreno is currently a junior at UST and is majoring in Psychology.  He is active with the UST Chapter of Knights of Columbus, Campus Ministry, the Psi Chi Psychology Club and the fencing club.

“I would recommend Project GRAD to other high school students,” said Moreno. “Not only do they prepare you for college courses, but participating gives access to scholarships which has really helped me out.”