Gift to Alamo Colleges creates pipeline for future HSC students

Health Science Center leadership joined in the announcement of the Pathways Scholarships.
Health Science Center leadership joined in the announcement of the Pathways Scholarships. Pictured are (from left) Jacqueline Mok, Ph.D., vice president for academic, faculty and student affairs, Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., dean, School of Nursing, Harvey Najim and David C. Shelledy, Ph.D., RRT, FAARC, FASAHP, dean, School of Health Professions.

A major gift to higher education will create a pathway for students from under-served communities in San Antonio to begin with Alamo Colleges and then transfer to partner universities, including the Health Science Center.

The students will ultimately earn bachelor’s degrees in the high-demand fields of IT, cyber-security, nursing and health professions.

A $1 million donation by San Antonio philanthropist Harvey Najim to the Alamo Colleges Foundation to create the Pathways Scholarship was announced Feb. 18 by Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie, Ph.D.

“Too many jobs in technology and the medical field are not being filled with local San Antonio graduates, especially those from low-income families,” said Najim, founder of Sirius Computer Solutions Inc. “This low-cost, four-year Pathways Scholarship plan … will create jobs for San Antonio students here at home, which can contribute $10 million to $12 million each year to our local economy. Plus it will enrich the partnerships between the Alamo Colleges and these universities.”

Dr. Leslie said, “We applaud Mr. Najim for having the foresight to create a scholarship program that not only ensures that students will be able to complete their education at the Alamo Colleges, but that they will build on that foundation by completing a four-year degree as well. This aligns perfectly with our goal of increasing the number of our students who complete a bachelor’s or higher degree after transferring from the Alamo Colleges and our commitment to empowering our diverse communities for success.”

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also expressed his approval of the strategic partnership, saying he is exploring opportunities to help these underserved students get summer internships and jobs upon graduation.

“The UT Health Science Center San Antonio is committed to educating the next generation of health care professionals for our community,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of the Health Science Center. “Harvey Najim is leading the way in strengthening the pathway for students, through this innovative collaboration with the Alamo Community College District, to pursue their educational goals that will qualify them to be competitive in the health industry. We applaud his leadership.”

Funding will cover four cohorts of 50 students to attend Alamo Colleges full time for two years.

Alamo Colleges will soon begin recruitment efforts targeting high-achieving students from Edgewood, SAISD, Harlandale, South San, Southwest, Somerset and Southside school districts. The program will begin with the 2016-17 academic year. The first cohort of students is expected to transfer to a partner university in 2018 and graduate with bachelor’s degrees in 2020.

Najim said he will underwrite another $1 million for students to enroll in programs at partner universities. In addition to the Health Science Center, they include Texas A&M University-San Antonio and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The gift from Najim to the Health Science Center will be equal to $2,500 per student, per year for a maximum of two years. Eligible programs include respiratory care, emergency health sciences, clinical lab sciences and nursing.

The program allows for a total of up to 80 Health Science Center students—four cohorts of 20—by 2023.

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