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Eclectic lecture series invites lifelong learners

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

UHCL Admin Prof ConferenceHouston area office professionals break into small groups to analyze their daily work routines as part of the first Administrative and Office Professionals Summit offered this spring through University of Houston-Clear Lake’s School of Human Sciences and Humanities. The summit is one of the new community continuing education offerings provided through the school, which will also launch a Friday Morning Continuing Education class series beginning with a mixer 9-11 a.m., Aug. 26, at the UHCL Patio Cafe, Bayou Building, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston.

Whet your intellectual appetite with the Friday Morning Continuing Education series, kicking off this fall at University of Houston-Clear Lake. The new series, offered through the university’s School of Human Sciences and Humanities, will be introduced through a mixer to be held 9-11 a.m., Aug. 26, at the university’s Patio Café, Bayou Building, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston.

This addition builds on an already strong list of ongoing educational opportunities provided throughout the university.

From vampires to astronauts, the Civil War to the Amazon, each session in the series will offer a choice of topics featuring fascinating information presented by expert speakers, said Christine Paul, director of the UHCL foreign language program and continuing education programs.

“People want these classes to expand their consciousness and awareness,” said Christine Paul. “We want to build a community of people who establish relationships in an academic framework the Clear Lake area is such a diverse and educated community.”

Membership for the fall series of Friday Morning Continuing Education costs $26 plus an additional $18 course fee for each individual session participants select to attend. In addition to access to the courses and course materials, membership also grants borrowing privileges at Alfred R. Neumann library, discounts at the UHCL bookstore and other benefits designed to enhance the educational experience.

Offerings in the new Friday Morning Continuing Education series are based on responses to surveys about the types of events that community friends want, said Paul. This year will feature a mix of topics and talks, and expects to refine and adjust the program based on attendance and feedback. Of the 256 respondents to a survey distributed about continuing education opportunities in general, Paul said 86 percent wanted continuing education opportunities on campus.

Friday Morning Continuing Education is the latest in continuing education offerings from the university. Earlier this spring, UHCL’s School of Human Sciences and Humanities hosted its first Administrative and Office Professionals Summit, a successful event also coordinated through Paul’s office, and showed office professionals from throughout the Houston area ways for improving communication, efficiency and productivity in the workplace. The summit is already set to be held again in 2017.

Since 1985, the Foreign Language and English Enhancement Program also offered through the School of Human Sciences and Humanities has been successfully providing classes to people wishing to learn a new language or foreign professionals who want to strengthen their English skills.

Other UHCL continuing education opportunities include courses through the Center for Educational Programs offered by the School of Education, which provides extensive professional development for teachers, principals and other educators. The School Business houses the Center for Executive Education, which offers courses and certifications for managers and supply chain professionals as well as numerous examination prep courses.

The annual spring UHCL Physics and Space Science Seminar Series from the School of Science and Computer Engineering features speakers from all over the country discussing current topics in the sciences, and the Cyber Security Institute offers weekend classes for careers in networking and information security. UHCL’s Clear Lake Association of Senior Programs and its “Visions in Our Midst” Distinguished Speaker Series presented through the university’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations also provides lifelong learning opportunities for area residents.

Continuing education is vital to UHCL’s mission and its role in the community, said Paul. The university’s most recent forays in continuing education are the first of many valuable and varied additions.

“The goal is to get people on campus,” said Paul.. “Once they get on campus, they don’t want to leave.”

For a full schedule of upcoming Friday Morning Continuing Education sessions or to register, visit or call 281-283-3033.

Three students take to Rice University labs for research

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

SJC RiceProgram Quyen Vu works in the lab of Dr. Aryeh Warmflash at Rice University as an intern with the Rice University Summer Undergraduate Research Programs. Photo credit: Jeannie Peng Mansyur, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations and government affairs department.

Quyen Vu will admit that the thought of attending San Jacinto College did not bring with it visions of stem cell research alongside Rice University professors. However, that’s exactly how Mikaela Guevara, Kevin Fuentes and herself are spending their summer as part of the Rice University Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

The three SJC students will showcase their research at a poster symposium at Rice University in the BRC Event/Exhibition Hall.

“I would never have thought that as a community college student I would be able to do research like this,” said Vu, who is working in the Rice University lab of Dr. Aryeh Warmflash and researching stem cells and development. Vu graduated from SJC in May, free of college debt thanks to scholarships, work studies and a Pell Grant. “My San Jacinto College professors helped me get to this point with everything from time management to how to keep a great lab notebook and deal with any challenges that came my way.”

Guevara is working in the lab of Dr. Daniel Wagner and researching zebrafish as a model system for develop and genetic basis of disease. Fuentes is working in the lab of Dr. K. Jane Grande-Allen and researching tissue and cellular responses to heart disease.

They were three of only 12 students in the nation invited to participate as interns in the Rice University Summer Undergraduate Research Program this year. Each participant receives a stipend for the 10-week internship with an option to stay in Rice University housing. Participants attend lunch meetings and seminars to discuss research topics related to multi-scale bimolecular networks. Other topics include graduate school and career options and how to prepare an effective poster and an academic workshop. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation.

“The Rice University Summer Undergraduate Research Program is world class and offers some of our brightest students the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research,” said Christopher Wild, department chair for chemistry, engineering, geology and physics at SJC. Both Guevara and Vu are former students of Wild.

“The experience at Rice will likely change their lives and academic trajectory as they get a sense for what it is like to push the frontiers of science,” said Wild. “Having the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest minds in a research setting is not often thought of when the community college experience comes to mind. We at San Jacinto College are grateful for the leadership at Rice that have made this summer research program available to our students.”

Vu plans to transfer to University of Texas to study chemical engineering. Guevara plans to transfer to a university to study biochemistry, and Fuentes will study engineering.

The San Jacinto College STEM Council supports all science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related research opportunities available through the College. For more information, visit

Scholarships provide tuition-free truck driving training

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

SJC TruckScholarshipTruck driving students like Jaime Gomez receive well-rounded training at San Jacinto College. The College recently received an $80,000 grant that will allow qualifying students to take truck driving courses tuition free. Photocredit: Jeannie Peng Mansyur, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations and government affairs department.

Students who want to learn truck driving have a golden opportunity to receive training at virtually no cost.

In partnership with San Jacinto College, Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions is offering $80,000 in scholarships for qualifying individuals interested in becoming truck drivers. The scholarship funds will provide $3,200 per student, allowing qualifying students to take truck driving courses tuition free. Students who qualify for the scholarships would only have to pay for their learner's’ permits and commercial driver’s licenses.

The scholarships will fund training for 25 San Jacinto College students, and will be available only until December 31, 2016.

Anyone interested in applying must contact one of the area designated Workforce Solutions offices to schedule an information session, any time between 1:30 and 4 p.m. The contact information, locations, dates and times of the information sessions are as follows:

• Cypress Station Office, 70 FM 1960 West #A, Houston, 77090, phone: 281-891-2850, Thursday, Aug. 18, 1:30 to 4 p.m.;

• Northline Office, 4424 North Freeway, Suite A, Houston, 77022, phone: 713-692-7755, Thursday, Aug. 25, 1:30 to 4 p.m.;

• Southeast Office, 12148-B Gulf Freeway, Houston, 77034, phone: 713-576-2580, Thursday, Sept. 8, 1:30 to 4 p.m.;

• Astrodome Office, 9315 Stella Link, Houston, 77025, phone: 713-661-3220, Thursday, Sept. 15, 1:30 to 4 p.m.

SJC truck driving program began in 1980, making it one of the oldest truck driving schools in the area. After a six-week course, entry-level drivers can test for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from the State of Texas and begin a career. The program prepares students for the Class A CDL, drivers are qualified for a full variety of loads and vehicles.

Truck driving is a high-demand career in the greater Houston area. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, employment for truck drivers in the region is projected to grow 23 percent by 2022. The average annual salary for truck drivers in the region is $46,815 or $22.51 per hour.

To find out more, please visit

UHCL empowered: Three generations, three journeys of discovery

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

UHCL 3GenThree generations of women from one family have discovered the power of a University of Houston-Clear Lake education. From left, alumni Sarah Elam, Tracy Elam and Patricia Ware all credit UHCL with helping them discover and achieve important goals

A University of Houston-Clear Lake education has empowered three generations of one family to discover and explore their passions.

When Sarah Elam graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, she joined her grandmother and mother as a UHCL alumna.

Not only have they shared an alma mater, all three have discovered more about themselves through their education at the university.

Patricia Ware, Sarah’s grandmother, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities in 1983 and a Master of Arts in Literature in 1987. Discovery came in her creative writing classes, where she was inspired by the personal stories of her classmates.

“Creative writing gave me an outlet that I needed very badly, I didn’t realize until I came here the benefit of being able to express your feelings. That was the most important thing to me, being here. I enjoyed every minute of it" said Patricia Ware.

Sarah’s mother, Tracy Elam, earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences in 1984. Her degree laid the foundation for a successful career she discovered later in life – teaching.

As a veteran biology tutor for Barbers Hill Independent School District, Tracy often draws on experiences from her science courses and work in clinical research to give meaningful connections and examples to her students as they prepare for standardized testing.

“The background has helped me so much in the field. It actually applies to them. That’s what catches their attention, it isneat to see the light come on and feel like you’ve made a difference" said Tracy Elam.

Tracy and Patricia’s studies at UHCL overlapped, and the two recalled sharing a psychology class.

For Sarah, the older of Tracy Elam’s two daughters, attending UHCL was part of discovering her ideal career. In going outside the classroom onto the UHCL campus with her environmental science classes, Sarah discovered her love of working in the outdoors and her goal of becoming a park ranger.

“I liked being outside doing actual research,” she said of a particular project where students measured trees, tracking the growth based on data collected by previous students over the course of several years. “It made the science more hands-on and applicable.”

Through all three journeys, the women had both the university and each other for support.

Sarah recalled that her grandmother’s curiosity and interest in her environmental science made her, in turn, a better student.

“I’d teach her what I learned, and I could remember it better,” said Sarah Elam.

Tracy said Patricia has always encouraged her children and grandchildren to challenge themselves and avoid easy answers.

“You always made people think,” Tracy said to her mother during the group interview.

As part of that encouragement, Patricia has enjoyed seeing each member of the family become an expert in a different area of study.

“Our conversations are always interesting because we each have a different field,” said Patricia Ware.

The three UHCL alumni encouraged current students to get involved in the university, advice each of them has taken to heart – Patricia was a two-time short story winner in the UHCL’s literary journal Bayousphere, Tracy was an officer in the science club and both of them traveled together in a study abroad trip to China when the country first re-opened to tourism in the 1980s.

“It’s important to try and get involved, I still have very good friends I met while attending UHCL. We still have those connections" said Tracy.

Looking ahead, Patricia and Tracy anticipate a bright future for Sarah as she uses the knowledge, skills and passion she learned at UHCL to keep exploring the world and discovering more about herself. Just as they have, empowered by a UHCL education.

For 40 years, UH-Clear Lake has empowered individuals to find their passion and pursue their goals. This #UHCLempowered profile series celebrates the students, alumni, faculty and staff who impact their communities and the world. Follow #UHCLempowered hashtag on social media to learn more about how the university is changing lives.

To empower the next generation of UHCL students, find out how you can support the university at For more about the university, visit

UHCL receives Second Chance Pell Grant

Written by staff. Posted in Schools

University of Houston-Clear Lake became one of just 67 colleges and universities selected to participate in the Department of Education’s new Second Chance Pell pilot program. An experiment announced in July 2015, the pilot program will test whether participation in high quality education programs increases after expanding access to financial aid for incarcerated individuals. It will allow eligible incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants and pursue postsecondary education with the goal of helping them get jobs and support their families when they are released.

“We believe in second chances, we have to give people who have paid their debt to society a fair shot at college and careers together we can make that a reality” said John B. King Jr, secretary of Education.

The announcement of the program builds on President Barack Obama’s administration’s commitment to create a fairer and more effective criminal justice system, reduce recidivism and combat the impact of mass incarceration on families and communities through educational opportunity.

“This is wonderful news for our students in the Ramsey Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,” said Billy Satterfield, executive director of student financial aid and registrar.

“Many struggle to meet the financial demands that can come with attaining an academic degree.

The Second Chance Pell grant will help qualified students with those costs tremendously” said Satterfield.

The U. S. Department of Education noted that selected colleges and universities will partner with 141 federal and state penal institutions to enroll roughly 12,000 incarcerated students in educational and training programs. Institutions selected for the Second Chance Pell pilot program may provide Federal Pell Grants to qualified students who are incarcerated and likely to be released within five years of enrolling in coursework.

According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Education, “access to high quality education is vital to ensuring that justice-involved individuals have an opportunity to reclaim their lives and restore their futures. Through this partnership with the Department of Education and institutions of higher learning around the country, this program will help give deserving incarcerated individuals the skills to live lives of purpose and contribute to society upon their release. The Department of Justice will continue to pursue additional efforts to reduce recidivism, promote opportunity and give justice-involved individuals a meaningful second chance” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Since its inception in 1974, UHCL has offered classes at TDCJ. The courses are offered through the School of Human Sciences and Humanities and lead to a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences and graduate degrees in humanities and literature.

“The benefits of educating offenders are both visible and varied,” said Rick Short School of Human Sciences and Humanities Dean. “The recidivism rate for students who earn college degrees has been consistently lower than the rate for the general population.

“In the long-term, this translates into a substantial savings of taxpayer dollars.”

More than 600 degrees from UHCL have been awarded to students within the TDCJ program. Graduates of the program have gone on to complete advanced degrees at other institutions and taken jobs with a wide variety of organizations.

“This program has made a difference — a difference that extends far beyond the confines of the university,” said William P. Powers Jr., UHCL Director of TDCJ-ID. “They enjoy a support base that includes availability of a job placement service and career/vocational and personal counseling.”

The Second Chance Pell pilot program, builds upon previous administration efforts and responds to recommendations put forth by President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to promote successful alternatives to incarceration and eliminate unnecessary barriers to re-entry into society.

Currently, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world with approximately 2.2 million people incarcerated in American prisons and jails. A 2013 study from the RAND Corp. funded by the Department of Justice found the incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who did not participate in any correctional education programs. The corporation also estimated that for every dollar invested in correctional education programs, four to five dollars are saved on three-year re-incarceration costs.

For more information about the UHCL School of Human Sciences and Humanities TDCJ program, email Powers, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 281-283-3385. To find out more about UHCL, visit or call 281-283-7600.

Hawk1 taking UHCL research to new heights

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UHCL Hawk1Photo by George Mattingly II University of Houston-Clear Lake Senior Research Scientist and Lecturer Mustafa Mokrech prepares the Environmental Institute of Houston’s drone for flight. The body of the drone can carry sensitive measurement equipment for use in research and teaching.

University of Houston-Clear Lake has a new perspective on local habitats and wildlife with the addition of some high-flying equipment.

Hawk1 is the first unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, of UH-Clear Lake’s Environmental Institute of Houston. The vehicles, more commonly referred to as drones, have grown in popularity for all sorts of applications, from military to recreational.

UHCL researchers can use the drone to take high quality aerial photography as well as infrared scans, which have a number of research applications. The craft’s design also allows it to be fitted with additional scanners and measurement tools.

“Hawk1 is very versatile. It has a variety of cameras, not only visible, but also other spectrums,” said George Guillen, EIH executive director. “It’s an integrated tool that can be used for all types of analysis.”

In one recent application, Hawk1 is being used to map oyster beds in Bastrop Bay. Oyster beds are exposed at extremely low tides, which only occur during specific tidal and weather conditions. As such low tides only last a short time, Hawk1 is essential for surveying the area quickly and accurately. The same goes for monitoring coastal birds or stretches of local prairies.

“Because of changes in the bay, dredging, sea level rise, there’s a lot of interest in what’s going to happen in that habitat,” said Guillen.

Guillen said that as drones become more popular, it will become vital that students have access to hands-on experience with the drones, which has the ability to simultaneously collect data, images and precise geographic location and will be invaluable to researchers. Combining data with maps is key to geographic information systems, which are increasingly vital in fields as diverse as environmental science, oil and gas production and sociology.

“GIS is really important for students to learn. This is the future. The traditional way of collecting data with aircraft will diminish with the rise of photogrammetric system UAVs” said Senior Research Scientist and Lecturer Mustafa Mokrech.

Hawk1, which received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in February, usually relies on autopilot to follow a predetermined flight path. However, it is only unmanned in the sense that no one physically rides the vehicle. The drone requires a team of at least four people to operate it in the field, including one pilot with a remote control; one person to manage the UAV from a computer and two spotters to watch for birds, planes or other unexpected obstacles.

The drone’s measurements and positioning are accurate to within 2.2 centimeters from an altitude of 200 feet, and Mokrech said the device can become even more accurate with upgrades.

EIH has big plans for Hawk1 in the future, including building a program so students can learn more about drones, incorporating its data into existing courses and developing monitoring programs for local natural areas.

“This is just the start drones are with us and will stay with us for a while” said Mokrech.

To find out more about UHCL’s Environmental Institute of Houston, visit