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Alfaro lands Greater Texas postsecondary student success grant

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
July 31, 2013

Edna Alfaro, an assistant professor in the Family and Child Development faculty in the School of Family and Consumer Science at Texas State University, has received a grant from the Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) to support her work in areas related to student postsecondary success.

The three-year, $90,000 GTF grant to Alfaro is one of four given out to support tenure-track faculty at Texas higher education institutions. Texas State received two such grants for 2013, with Melissa Martinez receiving the other.

“My interest in student outcomes stems from personal observations I made while transitioning through high school and college,” Alfaro said. “At the time, I was surrounded by family and friends making similar transitions; however, I noticed that there seemed to be almost as many paths through these transitions as there were people. These paths led to early, on-time, or delayed graduation or leaving school all together. These observations quickly turned to a genuine interest in gaining a better understanding for the factors that foster academic success.

“Having the opportunity to serve as a GTF Fellow will have a tremendous impact on my teaching and research activities. I hope to contribute to our understanding of Latina/o students’ academic success and retention by focusing on cultural, familial and individual assets that enable students to overcome academic barriers, ” she said. “Partnering with GTF will provide me with the support needed to dedicate my time and energies to implement a research study that examines the importance of parents, culture, individuals and universities in the transitions into and through college. Approaching my research with academic rigor will allow me to effectively serve my students while laying the groundwork for the future development of programs.”

Following a competitive proposal process, the foundation selected four individuals to comprise the first cohort of the GTF Faculty Fellowship Program (GTF Fellows). Each GTF Fellow will receive up to $30,000 per year for a period of three years to support a proposed research agenda.

"Greater Texas Foundation’s mission is to support efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, andcomplete a postsecondary education," said Malon Southerland, GTF board chair. "GTF Fellows is a result of our board’s desire for the foundation to have a role in building research and teaching capacity for Texas faculty working in areas related to the foundation’s mission and strategy."

After being nominated through a by-invitation-only nomination process, the selected fellows were invited to participate in a competitive proposal process in which they were required to demonstrate significant potential in and commitment to a career in research and teaching at the postsecondary level. In addition, applicants were required to identify a mentor to assist them throughout the three-year fellowship. Each of the selected fellows’ home institutions committed to a partial match for the program.

“Only one in five Texas students completes a college credential within six years of graduating from high school,” said Wynn Rosser, GTF president and CEO. “With the addition of a new cohort each year, over time, GTF Fellows will create a broad and deep network of highly talented and committed Texas researchers working to understand barriers for students and identify research-based solutions to help more Texas students access and succeed at the postsecondary level.”

Through participation in annual GTF Fellows summits over the course of the fellowship, fellows will have access to professional development opportunities and guidance related to their intended career trajectory.

The selection process for the second cohort of fellows will begin fall 2013. For additional information about the GTF Fellows program and the first cohort of fellows, visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org and click on the "GTF Fellows" tab.

Greater Texas Foundation

Greater Texas Foundation is a statewide education grant maker, based in Bryan. The foundation’s mission is to support efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete a postsecondary education. GTF puts particular focus on helping underserved and disadvantaged populations.GTF pursues its mission by forming partnerships, supporting research, sharing knowledge, and making grants. From 2001 through 2012, the foundation’s grant making totaled nearly $40 million from more than 400 grants.