Around Campus: Quest

Detours and delinquency:
Helping at-risk youth find their way

By Brittnie Curtis

According to DoSomething.org, more than 1.2 million students each year drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds or 7,000 a day. Texas State University is taking steps to help reduce this growing problem.

15-173_PRO_Quest_Program_Digital_Graphics_Proof1_Twitter_HeaderQuest is a new program from Texas State’s Center for P-16 Initiatives. It is a male mentorship initiative that addresses the needs of boys from the San Marcos Independent School District who are at-risk or on their way to dropping out of school. With a focus on getting these boys into a mindset that is more college- or career-focused, the G-Force mentors (Texas State undergraduate students) and Isaac Torres, grant specialist from the Center for P-16 Initiatives, act as their guide.

A ROCKY START

Torres can relate to many of these young men he is trying to help. Born in Los Angeles, his own life has been a complicated journey. When his parents’ relationship dissolved, Torres and his older brother were left without a father figure. Shortly after, his mother moved them to Oregon to get a fresh start.

“I didn’t meet my father until I was 16,” Torres says. “That was pretty significant as far as why I never really developed on time with many of my peers. My father was a drop-out, went to prison and spent most of his adult life homeless. My brother was a high school drop-out, went to prison right after high school. And then I dropped out my junior year. I was perpetuating a cycle.”

With an unstable home life, Torres says going to college was never presented as an option. His path to dropping out of high school began when he was in elementary school. By age 12, Torres was already a behavioral problem, and took pride in being the kid most often sent to the principal’s office. He adopted a persona of “the trouble maker” simply to get attention he wasn’t getting any other way. Once he entered high school, he started to skip more and by 10th and 11th grade, Torres was never in class.

ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS

After dropping out, Torres worked various jobs for about eight years before he was ready for a change. Frustrated with doing physical labor and coming home sweaty and dirty at night, Torres started looking into getting his GED.

“I had grown very tired of just breaking myself for no money and no future,” Torres says. “The best job I had was at a bakery, and the most I ever made there was $9 an hour. There was no upward mobility; there were no possibilities there for me. I was just frustrated with struggling and barely paying the bills. I wouldn’t have even thought about getting my GED if it wasn’t for a friend’s motivation.”

At a New Year’s Eve party, a friend told Torres he could start to apply for FAFSA the next day. Since he was oblivious to what FAFSA was, his friend broke it down to him. Torres mentioned that he didn’t even have a high school diploma and with her help, he began to take action. After getting off work at the bakery, he would take the bus to Portland Community College and take his GED tests.

Even after earning his GED, Torres said college still wasn’t on his mind. Getting the GED itself was simply closure on the high school chapter of his life for him. The same friend who had encouraged him to look into FAFSA took him to the University of Oregon campus and introduced him to a few faculty and staff. With her help, Torres completed his application, and he was accepted as an undergraduate student double majoring in speech pathology and Spanish.

“I’ve always had a love for language and words,” Torres says. “Reading inspired me to enrich my mind.”

Once he got his degree, Torres moved back to Los Angeles to be around his family. There he worked as at a collection agency, but it wasn’t exactly his dream job. A mentor mentioned to Torres about the master’s program in creative writing at Texas State University. Torres put together his portfolio and applied.

A BRIGHTER FUTURE

When Torres came to Texas State, he got a job as a G-Force mentor in the Center for P-16 Initiatives.  G-Force mentors are stationed at local high schools. It’s their duty to help high school students with the college application process and local residents with résumés. At the time, he says, it was just a job, but as he got more involved, it began to mean more to him.

“I realized that my story empowered people,” Torres says. “I worked as a mentor for one year and then [the Center for P-16 Initiatives] got this new grant for Generation Texas. I applied for the position of grant specialist and have been working there ever since.”

Now Torres focuses on giving back to the community by inspiring young adults who were in the same predicament as he was. He sees it as his responsibility to give others the right to choose what they want to do with their lives.

“Getting a young person to realize their personal story and why that matters is very difficult,” Torres says. “It’s critical for me to focus on young people who are starting to slip away. I feel like it’s my duty; I want to try to spare some people the same experiences I went through.”

To find out more about Quest and other programs offered by the Center for P-16 Initiatives, visit its website.

 

Happenings: The Bookstore Kicks off the Holiday Season

By Brittnie Curtis

Holiday season at Texas State is no small thing. The entire campus comes together in the joy and spirit of the various holidays that take place this time of year. The University Bookstore is expressing its holiday spirit by hosting its 13th annual Holiday Open House and Gingerbread House Contest.

“[The Holiday Open House] brings a sense of community to the campus,” says Lauren Williams, general merchandise and marketing manager for the University Bookstore. “It connects the bookstore to the faculty, staff and students.”

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Old Main by the College of Fine Arts and Communications

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10 Things Only Texas State Students Will Understand

By Brittnie Curtis

1. STAIRS/HILLS 

You have to walk up a flight of stairs or some sort of hill to go just about anywhere on campus. At least those calves are getting a good workout, right?

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Study Tips: Finals Countdown

Heading for Finals: Don’t Hit the Wall. Climb Over It!

by SLAC

Does this sound like you or someone you know? During exams, do you:

  • go blank
  • become frustrated
  • start thinking I can’t do this or I’m stupid
  • feel your heart racing or find it difficult to breathe
  • know the answers—after turning in a test
  • score much lower than on homework or papers

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Around Campus: Ice Hockey

By Brittnie Curtis

2014-2015 Texas State Ice Hockey team

2014-2015 Texas State Ice Hockey team

The Texas State Ice Hockey team began in 2011 with a handful of students who wore practice jerseys and played with a very select budget. With a few of the founding players still on the team, it has grown to  more than 15 players.  The team, a registered sports club, is classified in the Western Region of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA)-Division II with more than 200 other teams.

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Preparing for Thanksgiving

by SLAC

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Spending time in the library each week now could help you in the long run!

The days are getting shorter as your to-do list is getting longer. You might be tempted to put some class work off until after Thanksgiving because you don’t want to be doing homework, writing papers, working on projects or studying for tests while you are around family and friends, eating turkey and then sleeping off the L-tryptophan! But by putting off course assignments, you could find yourself neck-deep in work—and facing lowered motivation because the semester will be almost over. Plus you’ll have finals to study for! Here is a better course of action: Continue reading

Around Campus: Eko Heights

Music-making students
find success together

by Brittnie Curtis

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Monroe and Wilcox have found a sound that has quickly earned them attention.

Texas State student Taylor Monroe recently joined forces with his friend Zach Wilcox to form a new band, Eko Heights. With a record deal already in place, the band is making great strides. We caught up with Taylor to ask him a few questions about his success.

Q. How did the band form? 
A. Zach and I met in our high school speech class, but we didn’t really talk much until we both joined rugby. We then found out that not only were we both musicians, but that we were also neighbors. We lived on the same block on the same street. I always wanted to start a band, so when Zach and I found out we were both musicians, we decided to give it a go. We were both refreshed to see how dedicated the other was, because everyone wants to start a band and it’s hard to find people with the dedication to actually see it through. Continue reading