Houston Newsmakers: Exploring educational pathways that lead to success, financial security

College Degree is not the only key to financial success (KPRC-Pixabay)

BridgeYear provides career test drive alternatives to college

Victoria Chen was a high school teacher and counselor when she realized she was part of an educational system that wasn’t supporting students who were not academically inclined or interested in college.

That’s when she co-founded BridgeYear, an organization created to provide a pathway toward economic independence and stability.

”The bachelor’s degree is not the only pathway to success,” she said. “It’s one way that we can encourage students to go after high school but it’s not the only way.”

The “Career Test Drive” is one of the ways they provide access to careers in which they might have an interest.

“A lot of students think they might want to do something in healthcare but they don’t know the term phlebotomist or medical laboratory technician,” she said. “And beyond knowing the term, if they never tried it that’s a really hard sell for a young person to make a financial commitment, a lifetime commitment to pursue that educational path.”

OneGoal Houston focuses on college graduation

Only 22% of students from low-income communities earn postsecondary degrees as compared to 67% of their peers, according to OneGoal Houston. It is that “degree divide” which is a focus of the OneGoal Houston nonprofit.

“If you are a low-income student in Houston you have as 20% chance of completing a postsecondary degree or credential than 67% of your more affluent peers,” said Patty Williams-Downs, the Executive Director of OneGoal Houston. “That is the divide.”

Find out about the many programs in place by OneGoal Houston to help alleviate the gap in degree opportunities.

From the near bottom of the class to Ph.D.

He graduated in the bottom third of his small high school class and was told that HVAC was his best chance at a career.

Daniel Villanueva felt he had more to give and now many years and eight colleges later he has a Ph.D. and is Vice President of Enrollment Management at U of H Downtown.

“There were academic challenges at every level that I had to push forward and there were people along the way that served in the role that I currently serve who helped progress my career forward,” he said.

The obstacles to equitable college education opportunities are one of many topics on this week’s Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall

Watch an extended Newsmakers EXTRA on resourcing here.

For more information on this week’s Houston Newsmakers

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