Rafiq Hoque lives in Glenn Heights and works near Waxahachie, but two nights a week he commutes to Lakewood.
He helps teenagers unlock the mysteries of calculus and chemistry in a tutoring program at the University Outreach Center of Dallas.
Hoque, a civil engineer working for the Superconducting Super Collider, is one of a number of volunteers the non-profit center depends on to help prepare Hispanic and African-American teenagers for college.
“The center’s programs help fill a need for students whose families don’t have a lot of experience with higher education,” Hoque says.
The University Outreach Center moved to new offices at 6324 Prospect Ave. in late August after spending its first five years in buildings near North Dallas High School. Funded by the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of North Texas and the Dallas County Community College District, the Dallas center is one of six organizations in the state that work with selected students and their parents from eighth grade through high school graduation.
More than 52,000 students from the Dallas area received some type of services through the Dallas center during the 1992-93 school year, and among those were 800 specially targeted students who form the core of the University Outreach program. These 800 students, all of whom attend schools in DISD, are selected on the basis of academic performance, interest in college and ethnic background. For the duration of their enrollment in University Outreach, they will attend twice-monthly advising classes at their schools, participate in extracurricular programs and have their course selections and grades monitored by University Outreach advisers.
Campuses targeted this year are Long, Atwell, Browne, Greiner, Hood, Hulcy, Rusk, Spence and Stockard middle schools; and Bryan Adams, Skyline and Carter High Schools. Woodrow Wilson and North Dallas high schools were targeted for the first five years of University Outreach, but were rotated off the list this year to make way for new campuses.
While enrollment in University Outreach doesn’t guarantee the targeted students admission to college, it appears to be the next best thing. Of the 572 high school seniors the Dallas center has monitored in the past five years, 560 – or 98 percent – are attending college. Center graduates can be found as close as El Centro College and as far away as the University of Notre Dame, New York University and Universidad de Mexico. And, equally impressive, none of the center’s other enrollees in grades eight through 12 has dropped out of school, says center director Michele Bobadilla.
“What we’re trying to do is fill in all those gaps that kids need to be successful,” Bobadilla says.
Besides the college preparatory advising provided for target students and their parents, the center offers an array for free services to any student willing to participate. These include Scholastic Aptitude Test prep classes, homework tutoring (especially science and math), financial aid/scholarship assistance, parent seminars, career exploration opportunities, educational field trips and a computer lab for completing homework, resumes and college applications. The center’s seven-member staff and a small army of volunteers organize presentations, seminars and activities nearly every day throughout the Dallas area to spread the word about the importance of a college education.
College admissions officers who have worked with the University Outreach Center and its students give the program high marks.
“I think it is functioning extremely well,” says Robert Hogeda, assistant director for admissions and coordinator for minority recruitment at Southern Methodist University. “You notice the difference when you are interviewing the students who have been participating for several years and have gone through the SAT/ACT workshops. They’re more goal-oriented, assertive and enthusiastic – you can even see it in their eyes.
“Had they not had this preparation, they might not have gotten as far as they have.”
To learn more about information and opportunities offered through the University Outreach Center of Dallas, call 841-1911. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.