San Jacinto College offers a taste of college to young students

08.07.2014 | By Rob Vanya

San Jacinto College robotic technology instructor J. Keith Cummings (center) collaborated with high school students Devonte Snowden and Jonathan Lopez (left to right) during a robotics demonstration at the Upward Bound Math and Science summer session, held recently at the San Jacinto College North Campus. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.


Intensive programs designed to attract youth to STEM career fields


San Jacinto College offers programs and activities designed to introduce young students to college and to help them better prepare for the future, particularly in regards to STEM-related career paths (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS), for example, is a collaboration between San Jacinto College and high schools in the Channelview, Sheldon, and Galena Park independent school districts. In the program, selected students from the public schools are piloted through their high school years, beginning in the ninth grade. Workshops at the College help the high school students with study skills, test taking, and similar issues. The UBMS director and advisors work with the students and their parents to ensure the students are meeting the program’s high academic and discipline standards.

The partnership helps selected high school students excel in math and science, while also preparing the students to succeed in college. UBMS advisors, instructors, and tutors operate summer sessions, academic year sessions, Saturday sessions, university campus visits, as well as educational field trips.

“The goal of UMBS is to help high school students excel in math and science and to encourage them to pursue college degrees in the STEM disciplines,” commented Jacqueline Howard, the College’s UBMS director. Howard says there is an increasing demand for college graduates who major in math and science. “Within the next 20 years there will be a major lack of individuals to fill careers in math and science,” she noted.

Devonte Snowden, an 11th-grader at North Shore High School, is one aspiring college student whose interest in math has grown through UBMS activities, especially through hands-on robotics activities. “Ever since I qualified for Upward Bound Math and Science my freshman year of high school, I’ve had so many positive experiences it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I learned things that I could have never known, coming from a family where neither of my parents went to college and where my siblings only did a few hours of community college. The program has expanded my horizons and I’m so grateful for a program where one learns how to better their life and future while having a good time.”

EnergyVenture Camp, coordinated by the College’s Continuing and Professional Development (CPD) division, also provides a taste of college to students aged 12 to 15 with a focus on career paths in engineering, process technology, and geology. Since inception seven years ago, EnergyVenture has introduced 1,163 students to the oil and gas industry.

“EnergyVenture is designed for young people to learn while having fun,” commented Linda Drobnich, CPD business development manager. “Students perform lab experiments, win prizes for best-in-class team efforts, take a behind-the-scenes tour of an energy-related production facility, and hear from guest speakers who work in the field.” EnergyVenture was recognized as Outstanding STEM Educational Program during the recent Celebration of STEM Education Week in Texas.

Another recent venture that introduces younger students to college is Space Science Day, a partnership between San Jacinto College and NASA. Approximately 200 middle school students recently visited the College and learned about space exploration with hands-on NASA activities, including a portable planetarium, space suit demonstrations, meteorites and lunar rock samples, a Mars Rover landing video game, and a comet station. Dr. Aaron Burton, NASA/JSC organic geochemist and astrobiologist, explained what meteorites reveal about space and displayed meteorite samples. San Jacinto College students served as activity coordinators for educational experiments, which included lunar mapping, making volcanoes, and learning the scientific method.

“NASA Space Science Day targets students at the pre-college, undergraduate, and graduate levels,” said Angela Green-Garcia, San Jacinto College geology professor. “Our partnership with NASA bridges the link between academia and the professional world. If we help students realize their potential and keep that enthusiasm going, they have a better chance of completing their degree. Student success is San Jacinto College’s primary goal, and our commitment to programs such as NASA Space Science Day only reinforces it.”


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College. For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook at