Rice University Medal of Science Winner Urges HISD Students to Dream Big

About 100 students from four different HISD schools got a chance to meet with a National Medal of Science winner recently through their involvement with EMERGE, a program designed to help bright students from low-income families attend Ivy League schools.

Dr. Richard Tapia, a mathematician and faculty member at Rice University who won the National Medal of Science award in 2011, offered students some strong words of encouragement in their quest for higher education.

“You would be surprised what you can do if you just try,” said Dr. Tapia, on the importance of applying to top-tier universities. “I’m not the best, but I’m good enough.”

This marks the second year of the EMERGE program, which was founded by Moreno Elementary School teacher Rick Cruz when he was at Chávez High School. (Read related story here.)

“Colleges are actively seeking qualified students, regardless of their income level,” Cruz said, “and HISD students need to recognize that and act on it.”

EMERGE is now active at Chávez, as well as Furr and Sharpstown high schools and Eastwood Academy. Members of HISD’s Class of 2012 who participated in the pilot program last year are now attending Harvard, Tufts, Dartmouth, and Oberlin universities on full scholarships.

More activities for EMERGE participants are currently in the planning stages, including visits to college campuses in the spring.