New partnership with UTD’s Jindal School aims to foster student leaders


Jimmie Markham with the Naveen Jindal School of Management wrote this story. 

Students, faculty and administrators from the Dallas Independent School District visited the Naveen Jindal School of Management at The University of Texas at Dallas on Dec. 5 to kick off the  Jindal Young Scholars Program, a new partnership between the school district and the Jindal School.

Spearheaded by Dr. Hasan Pirkul, dean and Caruth Chair, the initiative was created to help “Stars Shine Brighter Here” by supporting the academic, social, and emotional development of Dallas ISD high school students and increase their chances of postsecondary success.

Five Dallas ISD schools were selected to participate in the program: School of Business and Management at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center, Moisés E. Molina High School, Franklin D. Roosevelt High School, H. Grady Spruce High School and W. T. White High School.

“What a great opportunity for these schools,” said Vince Reyes, Dallas ISD Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives and External Relations. “It’s amazing what UTD has put out there for these kids. What a generational impact it could have for students coming from these schools.”

The program comprises two components: year-round leadership activities for students in grades 9 through 12, and full scholarships. The leadership activities include academic enrichment programs such as tutoring for students enrolled in Advance Placement courses, a mentoring program, parent engagement activities, UT Dallas campus visits, SAT/ACT preparation courses, financial aid and scholarship application support. While students are encouraged to apply to UT Dallas, the program helps students navigate the financial aid and scholarship application process no matter where they apply.

The kickoff event was itself an enrichment activity for the 84 students from the five high schools who were on campus to celebrate the launch of the partnership. Billy Schewee, director of the program, opened the festivities in the Davidson Auditorium by introducing Dean Pirkul and Usamah Rodgers, an assistant superintendent at Dallas ISD, who each gave remarks. Schewee taught the students how to do the Whoosh, the signature gesture of UT Dallas students and alumni. The Dallas ISD students then displayed their new talent at a photo shoot with Temoc, the UT Dallas mascot.

After the photo shoot, students went on campus tours. They visited a residence hall and the Blackstone LaunchPad, the campus innovation incubator. After lunch at Dining Hall West, they attended a panel discussion led by students who represented various student organizations.

Idol Mallard, assistant principal at Roosevelt High School, chaperoned that school’s contingent of students. At the photo shoot, he saw the students’ excitement and commented on it.

“They don’t often get the opportunity to leave campus or even get out of their community,” he said. “For them to be able to experience other areas of Dallas and see what the options are — that’s an exciting piece for them.”

Rodgers described the necessity of having a program like the Jindal Young Scholars in the district.

“We have very talented students in our district that have opportunities to go to college — some even get to go to top-tier universities — and there’s always some level of financial support,” she said. “But a gap often exists between the social or emotional support they need to stay and persist and what they actually receive. That’s what sets this program apart from many others.”

The full-scholarship component of the program awards financial grant aid to students from the five high schools who participate in the program and fulfill all its requirements, including maintaining a qualifying grade-point average, actively participating in program activities, involving their parents whenever possible and applying to getting accepted to UT Dallas and the Jindal School. The funds cover any unmet needs after federal, state and institutional financial assistance is awarded. The scholarship may be used for tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and a stipend to help defray living expenses.


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