San Elizario ISD and UTEP Partner Through MENTE Program
San Elizario, Texas – The San Elizario Independent School District (SEISD) and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) through the Migrant Education Network for Tradition in Excellence (MENTE) Program have positively impacted students. According to the UTEP MENTE website https://www.utep.edu/education/mente/, the program aims to support students with a background as migrants, immigrants, and agricultural/farmworkers through important advocacy events.
For the past eight years, SEISD students have had the opportunity to attend the MENTE Program. The MENTE Program is an educational and motivational experience where students can identify with other individuals participating in the session and feel comfortable sharing their stories. The MENTE program has been an eye-opener for students in San Elizario who live in difficult situations. The MENTE program helps students see and understand that everyone has an opportunity to attend a college or university. The program changes the way students think and allows them to believe in themselves and all the possibilities available to change and improve their lives.
The Coordinator-Federal & Special Programs, Beatriz Apodaca, states, "This program gives our students the tools and resources they need to plan for a brighter future." Dr. Reynaldo Reyes is the founder of the MENTE program at UTEP and indicates that the program operates with the following understanding: 1. possibility for the socially, economically, politically, and educationally marginalized begins by recognizing and humanizing their lived experiences; 2. hope and change come from within, rooted in and nurtured and sustained by a community of compassionate and invested others; 3. even a brief interaction with a message of hope or possibility can be a seed for change and the redirecting of one's life trajectory. Apodaca emphasizes, "Dr. Reyes and his students are committed to empowering our students to think about post-secondary education and the choices they need to make to start planning."
Every year, Dr. Reynaldo Reyes and UTEP students prepare to welcome a new cohort of MENTE students from across the region. This school year, the 2021 MENTE Symposium occurred Friday, November 12, 2021, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Migrant students and students in transition at the Garcia Enriquez Middle School (GEMS) in the SEISD had the opportunity to attend. The 2021 MENTE Symposium theme was Beyond Today Because Tomorrow. In addition, the students had the chance to participate in some of the following sessions: Dream Path, Self Portrait, Reach for the Sky, The Power of One's Voice & Identity, Survival Island, and Knowing & Using the Right Tools. Apodaca states, "Social Workers Ms. Teresita Parra and Mrs. Sylvia Graves, with the assistance of Ms. Lynda Vargas, the Migrant Education Program Clerk, are extremely helpful with the coordination of the MENTE Symposium for students."