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CWS, NHI Programs

Texas CWS closes chapter, but not book, for NHI’s rising seniors

2019 Texas CWS students National Hispanic Institute NHI University of North Texas
Posted: July 15, 2019 at 9:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

A class of 113 students about to enter their final year of high school — most of them either two or three-year National Hispanic Institute participants — “graduated” from NHI at the 2019 Texas CWS closing ceremony event on Saturday at the University of North Texas. But both co-education director John F. Lopez and senior mentor Chris Avalos urged the group of inspired students to continue on in their NHI journeys, starting with the upcoming Celebracion event in San Antonio October 31-November 3.

Students were inspired by what they got from the program — unique among NHI leadership programs in that it’s essentially two programs in one.

The first half (dubbed the League Series) is a competition centered around the college application process, with students forming teams and competing as different universities. (This year, the team representing George Washington University edged out the University of North Texas team and the St. Mary’s University Team for the title.

The second half (dubbed the Thought Series) introduces students to a multi-step process called Inquiry-Based Learning, with starts with an initial question about a problem to solve or an issue to engage with, and develops from there.

Juan Contreras Mora, from Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas, observed that Texas CWS was “very impactful. He elaborated, “It was jam packed, and it was so full of information that I will absolutely use forever. It’s a new way of thinking. We’re so used to answering questions with solutions right away. It really taught us to ask more questions about that question, to see what all of our options were to find the best possible solution.”

Demetri Garcia, from Central Catholic High School at San Antonio — on the Texas CWS-winning League Series team and the second-place Thought Series team, appreciated NHI’s approach to immersive learning. As he put it, NHI’s created a “we’re not going to give you the answers, you have to find them methodology and modus operandi.” He noted, “There are so many stories about the shy kid in the corner becoming the leader” through NHI programs.

Julia Esparza, a Thought Series winner from Loretto Academy in El Paso, Texas, called CWS “a bittersweet goodbye to a really great chapter in your life.” Her teammate for both competitions, Sophia Sierra Quintero from iSchool High at University Park in Houston, Texas, called it “a conversation before the [start of senior year] to get prepared for the rest of your life.”

“You can get the most generic question and get to something so much deeper,” Esparza noted of the IBL process. “It just really helps you comprehend everything that’s going on in the question. It’s just a really amazing process to help you figure out life and navigate your way through it.”

“You could see a very noticeable change, especially in the IBL, in the depth of the analysis they could put into the challenges we gave them,” Lopez said of the students’ collective progress over the week. “I think that there was a huge difference between their presentations after the first challenge and their presentations after the last challenge. They really seemed to dig into more deeper issues and more complex thinking. And their proposed solutions showed that they had taken the time to really go into things like the values that go behind it and what they stood for and what it is they really wanted to accomplish. So I think it showed that they really did get the concepts we’re trying to teach them.”

Lopez feels CWS will help those students who want to take the next steps in their NHI journey, in large part due to what they discover about themselves. As he notes, they learn “the ability to know who you are and what you stand for.” Pointing to the Thought Series competition, in which students might think they’re learning to fill out applications and write essays, he observes, “You’re really learn how to reflect on who you are as a person, what your values are, and to articulate those beliefs in writing and in speaking with someone. It’s really interesting to see the light bulbs go on for students when they realize that.”

The winning 2019 Texas CWS League Series team included:

Ayleen Cardenas, Palmview High School, Mission, Texas
Jorge Chacon, Laredo Early College High School, Laredo, Texas
Joseph Decilos, Harlingen South High School, Harlingen, Texas
Demitri Garcia, Central Catholic High School, San Antonio, Texas
Analee Gonzalez, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston, Texas
Jonathan Hernandez, Laredo Early College High School, Laredo, Texas
Inaki Hernnadez, Early College High School RRISD, Round Rock, Texas
Larissa Lopez, West Oso High School, Corpus Christi, Texas
Natalie Medina, Eastwood Academy, Houston, Texas
Amelie Perez, Hanna High School, Brownsville, Texas
Elizabeth Ramos, Energy Institute High School, Houston, Texas
Jorge Ramos Putz, Cathedral High School, El Paso, Texas
Juana Salas, Warren Township High School, Gurnee, Illinois
Kaylin Vela, Early College High School RRISD, Round Rock, Texas

The winning 2019 Texas CWS Thought Series team included:

Roberto Ayala, Palmview High School, Mission, Texas
Marcus Chavarria, West Oso High School, Corpus Christi, Texas
Julia Esparza, Loretto Academy, El Paso, Texas
Mia Gonzalez, La Joya High School, La Joya, Texas
Inaki Hernandez, Early College High School RRISD, Round Rock, Texas
Baliah Leal, Falfurrias High School, Falfurrias, Texas
Melaney Nickell, Cotulla High School, Cotulla, Texas
Jareth Quintero, Judson Early College Academy, Universal City, Texas
Andrea Rodriguez, Hanna High School, Brownsville, Texas
Sophia Sierra Quintero, iSchool High at University Park, Houston, Texas
Kaylin Vela, Early College High School RRISD, Round Rock, Texas

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