Students teach high school students what to expect in college

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Rene Davis, a leader of the Student Leadership Institute, instructs students Alyssa Cruz from Edison High School, Victor Arias from Johnson High School and Joshua Dominguez from McCollum High School Feb. 22 in McAllister. The students had to assemble a puzzle. The game is a representation of students putting together their future for college. Amaru Ruiz

Student Leadership Institute graduates views on the program and how it helped them succeed in life.

By Samantha Woodward

Students who graduated with Level 1 certificates or higher from the district’s Student Leadership Institute planned the annual conference that drew 250 high school students to this college Feb. 23.

The young leaders conference began in 1985 for women and was changed in 2008 to focusing on high school students.

Now the conference helps high school students prepare for college and think about their future.

This event gave recent graduates of the leadership program hands-on experience in what they’ve learned.

The students met with parents and high school students separately to confer information about college.

Student leadership graduates talked with high school students about financial aid, Canvas and the challenges of college.

Two project leaders of the program, Dora Tarpeh, St. Philip’s College nursing graduate, and Rene Davis, Northwest Vista College digital video and cinema production graduate, hosted a game called “Putting the Pieces Together.”

Four high school students were selected to participate. They had to come up with a strategy to put together a jigsaw puzzle.

Tarpeh asked one of the contestants who lost, “Just because you didn’t win this time does that mean you’re going to give up?”

The underlying message of the game was that people may lose at some things, but they should persevere.

Fighting for one’s future is worth all the losses one may endure.

Davis, who retired from the military, joined the program to improve his communication skill.

“The student leaders program helped bridge the gap between military and civilian life,” he said.

St. Philip’s speech Professor Tyrell Williams helped Davis realize people have different perceptions.

“In the military, we have the mission first, so learning how to work with someone that has different opinions from you was a gap I had to fill,” he said.

Devon Bates, liberal arts graduate of Northwest Vista, joined the program after high school. He knew he needed structure if he was going to succeed in college.

“I was always lazy, never did my work. Once I read the description of the student leadership, I knew I had to give it a try,” he said

What he enjoyed most about the program was the volunteer work.

“By volunteering, it made me feel much better knowing that there are still people in the world that want to make a change,” he said.

Rose Enyeart, Northwest Vista math sophomore, said she was glad she joined the program.

It helped her improve as a person and was a major stepping stone for her future.

“This program has been a good catalyst to get me involved in other things. They helped me develop myself and I feel like they see me as a person,” Enyeart said.

The Student Leadership program incorporates “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. This teaches people how to be self-starters, resourceful, enthusiastic innovative and team players. It also teaches communication skills and networking.

For information on the Student Leadership Institute, call 210-485-0790 or email


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