This regular feature recognizes the achievements, activities, and accolades of Austin Community College District (ACC) faculty and staff. To submit news or suggestions, see the contact information below.

ACC student Amber Traylor is one of only 15 students nationwide awarded the special $1,000 Oberndorf Lifeline Competition Scholarship. The scholarship helps students involved in their local chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), an international college honor society. The Oberndorf Scholarship, named for its benefactors, Rosemary and Lou Oberndorf, is specifically designed to support students who have overcome a financial barrier that could prevent completion of college. As a non-traditional student, Amber — a double major in Chemistry and Physics — is setting her sights high. Learn more here. 

Out of more than 1,200 applicants, ACC student Faizan Khan was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Khan – an immigrant from Pakistan – graduated in May with an associate degree in Archaeology and plans to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s in Anthropology. Only 100 students nationwide were selected to receive the scholarship.

ACC Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes was interviewed by The EvoLLLution, a higher education website, about continuing education. The piece, titledWalk the Walk: How Continuing Ed Can Build Re-Enrollment Pathways for Returning Learners,” was published earlier this month. 

ACC College and High School Relations was awarded another two Upward Bound grants to serve at least 120 low-income, potential first-generation college students in Austin ISD. ACC was first awarded this grant in 2017. This is a continuation for an additional five years. Both programs will provide a combined $3 million for tutoring, college readiness education, personal coaching, and a 210-hour summer program. Services are designed to help more low-income, potential first-generation college-goers graduate from high school on time and immediately enroll and succeed in higher education. ACC Upward Bound programs will serve two cohorts of 60 ninth-12th graders, and grant programming will begin in September 2022. 

Last month, 88 Ascender, BRASS, and Career Scholar students were chosen to receive a Dell Chromebook from the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Dell and E3 Alliance through a “Take a Race Initiative” led by Procter & Gamble to support closing the digital divide. 

Austin Community College has the No. 1 most-improved graduation rate in Texas over the last few years. This is a collaborative effort but heavily due to the direct proactive outreach Student Affairs has done in the last several years. We are No. 1 statewide for the biggest improvement in three-year graduation rate with a 49% improvement compared to a 3% improvement statewide among two-year community colleges in the last few cohorts.

The Free Minds program, a collaboration among ACC, Foundation Communities, and The University of Texas at Austin, held its graduation at our Eastview Campus on May 23. This event celebrated 34 students in the Classes of 2021 and 2022. The Free Minds program helps underserved and under-resourced students make a fresh start by taking classes in literature, philosophy, history, and writing while providing free tuition, books, and child care. Students who complete the Free Minds program earn six semester credit hours from ACC.

The Adult Education Honor Society induction was held in person for the first time in three years this month at the Eastview Campus, and approximately 150 Adult Education students were recognized for excellence. The event was held to honor ACC’s GED graduates as well as ESL, Career Pathways, and College Prep students nominated by their teachers for outstanding participation and dedication to their studies. 

The American Association of Community Colleges hosted an Equity Transfer Initiative convening in Chicago earlier this month to explore ways to improve equitable transfer on community college-to-university baccalaureate pathways. ACC Transfer Director Renee Esparza was one of about 80 transfer professionals to attend.

Do you know a student, faculty, or staff member who has accomplished something notable outside the classroom or in their community? We want to hear about them. Contact Victoria Garza Gonzalez at [email protected].