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University Center Going Strong Two Years After Opening

Saturday, August 10, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

Stephen Zarate Stephen Zarate is running one of the best one-man shows in town.

As the Director of the University Center at Texas State Technical College, Zarate has been relentless in his recruiting efforts for the center and its partner universities.

As of this summer, 69 students have graduated from three different universities through the University Center.

Of that group, 50 received a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas A&M-Kingsville, three a Bachelor’s in Applied Science from Wayland Baptist University in San Antonio and two Masters in Accountancy from UTPA and 14 from the Principal Certification Graduate Program also from UTPA.

The University Center opened in the Fall 2011 through a collaborative effort by TSTC and the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation.

“We’re finally starting to see the fruits of our labor,” Zarate said. “Everyone from TSTC to the Harlingen EDC have done their part to make this a success.”

But it’s no secret that Zarate does most of the footwork when it comes to recruiting and reaching out to potential students.

Zarate said he’s reached out to a total of 1,449 potential students. During the Fall of 2012, 381 non-duplicated students took classes at the UC. During the Spring of 2013, that number increased to 412.

“We’re looking for bigger numbers in the coming years,” Zarate said.

And that’s not a far-fetched goal as opportunities for more degrees grow over the next couple of semesters.

Starting this fall, the first cohort in the University of Houston’s Bachelor’s of Organizational Leadership Supervision will start at the UC. Eight students are already signed up for the cohort. Next year, U of H will offer a Bachelor’s in Human Resource Management.

TAMUK will also offer a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice starting this fall. Zarate said 11 students are already signed up.

Wayland Baptist will also offer a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration starting this fall and eight students are already registered.

TAMUK is gearing up for a Bachelor’s in Applied Arts and Science with an emphasis on Industrial Technology Management starting in the Spring of 2014.

“We’re moving along,” Zarate said. “We’ve increased the number of times the universities visit the University Center and we’ve had more advisors on site too. That helps a lot.”

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