College tours help Young Women’s Leadership Academy students broaden learning horizons

dfwnewsa | February 27, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

College tours help Young Women’s Leadership Academy students broaden learning horizons

Alexia Hernandez, left, and Ila Avila are part of the Young Women’s Leadership Academy robotics team, The Dork Side, that competes in monthly competitions. (Courtesy photo | Young Women’s Leadership Academy)
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Alexia Hernandez, a junior at Fort Worth ISD’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy, is still weighing her options for colleges.

A $7,500 grant awarded to her school will allow her and six other students from the robotics team to tour two faraway colleges. The Fort Worth Education Partnership grant provides funds for sophomores and juniors to visit the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

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“I’m really excited to be able to go,” Hernandez, 17, said.

The tours are planned for later in the spring. Over three days, the students will see the dorms and classrooms at each school and explore the two campuses. The grant will be used for transportation, hotels and meals — the students won’t have to pay for anything.

“Being able to visit places like El Paso, which is pretty far from here, and places out of state like New Mexico State University, I think it’s really interesting,” Hernandez said.

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Hernandez thinks the tours are important for showing young girls that they can pursue a career in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. 

“It’s really important for young girls who are coming in to be able to see that they’ll have opportunities as they grow and to see that they’re not confined,” she said.

Brent Beasley, president and CEO of Fort Worth Education Partnership, said the goal of his organization is for every child to have access to great public schools. 

“We wanted to support schools that are providing quality education for kids all over the cities, so we put together a lot of different folks to put money together to support that,” he said.

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Lynn Hammer is the executive director for the school’s foundation. The tours are designed to tear down barriers for the students, she said.

Choosing a college from a computer is hard. Seeing a campus and walking around is a better way for students to get a taste of their future, Hammer said.

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“It allows them to expand their horizons because what they don’t know is what they don’t see,” she said.

College tours are a key part of Young Women’s Leadership Academy. Students check out the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Christian University as early as the sixth grade. As they get older, students can tour colleges like Yale University, Princeton University and Columbia University.

Every young girl needs the opportunity to succeed, Hammer said.

“It doesn’t matter what background you come from, at Young Women’s Leadership Academy you are told yes (you can do this),” she said.

Olla Mokhtar is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at olla.mokhtar@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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