Rising Stars
The power of education at work.
Program Overview

Intro - Rising Stars

At the heart of UST is the imperative to serve, especially those with limited access to educational excellence. With this in mind, UST launched the Rising Stars program in 2019, to provide crucial financial support and meaningful internship opportunities to first-generation students who would otherwise not be able to attend UST. Each participating student is connected to a corporate or nonprofit partner, allowing them to gain valuable experience and earn funds that are directly applied toward their tuition expenses.

Since its launch in 2019, the Rising Stars Program has grown exponentially from five students to more than 200. The University continues to break program enrollment records with each new class of freshmen, reiterating year after year that a program of this kind serves a great need for this specific population of students. The overall student retention rate has been more than 89%, a figure that more than doubles the national first-generation graduation rate of 42%. 

The Rising Stars Program clearly provides first-generation college students with a competitive edge, plus access to mentors and exposure to a professional network they may not have experienced otherwise, all while ensuring they never have to compromise on their academic goals. UST is committed to forging relationships and creating opportunities that empower our students to succeed well beyond their time with us. 

How It Works

An annual investment from a corporate sponsor or donor helps fill the financial gap for our Rising Star students and makes the dream of attending college a reality. It also introduces these students, most of whom who have limited exposure to Corporate America, to new professional experiences and mentors. 

With Rising Stars, UST is creating more employable graduates in an increasingly competitive job market and is helping them build invaluable networking connections that will influence them beyond college. It is a win-win program – corporate sponsors gain a productive employee, and the Rising Stars become valuable assets prepared for Houston’s workforce. 

  • Corporate sponsors contract with the UST Rising Stars subsidiary for part-time, entry-level office jobs.
  • Each semester, corporate sponsors pay a fee-for-service to the UST Rising Stars subsidiary.
  • Rising Star students are employees of the University of St. Thomas, not of the corporate sponsor.
  • UST handles processing payments to the Rising Stars students.

If you are interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, please contact Mallory Peterson, Director of Corporate Relations, at petersonm@stthom.edu

Galilea Nunez '23 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

The Rising Stars program gave me the best role models, an opportunity to be part of my corporate sponsor's company culture, and helped me determine my career path.

Galilea Nunez '23 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

A Proven Model

A Proven ModelThe Rising Stars program is mutually beneficial for both students and corporate sponsors.

Each student earns a substantial portion of UST's tuition costs while simultaneously gaining relevant work experience.

In return, corporate sponsors receive reliable entry-level workers who are poised for future employment.

Benefits To Sponsors

  • Motivated talent
  • Diverse pipeline of skilled workers
  • Payroll cost savings
  • Community impact

Benefits To Students

  • Affordable college education
  • Hands-on experience
  • Professional growth
  • New opportunities

The program's reputation has sparked tremendous interest from the corporate community and beyond. Our sponsors represent a wide range of industries, including health care research, mental health, finance, private equity, technology, software, energy, consulting, arts and philanthropy. The current supporters are among some of the most notable corporations and nonprofits in Houston.