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UST Launches Innovative Program that Reduces Tuition

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UST partners with corporate Houston to make college accessible and affordable for first generation and need-based students

The University of St. Thomas Houston and Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School are forming a unique partnership to launch a pilot program to help first-generation college students and students with financial need attend UST with minimal tuition costs.

UST President Dr. Richard Ludwick with Rising Star Internship students Julianna Figueroa Rojas, Lily Martinez, Galilea Nunez, Juan Avalos, Career Services Director Paula Marsh and Career Services Mentor Betsy Rajan. Missing from the photo is UST freshman Alejandra Neria

UST President Dr. Richard Ludwick with Rising Star Internship students Julianna Figueroa Rojas, Lily Martinez, Galilea Nunez, Juan Avalos, Career Services Director Paula Marsh and Career Services Mentor Betsy Rajan. Missing from the photo is UST freshman Alejandra Neria


Houston (Aug. 27, 2019) - The program will replicate the successful Cristo Rey Corporate Work-Study Program model and give the first cohort of five Cristo Rey entering freshmen the opportunity to continue with their work experience while attending college. 

The primary goal of this unique work-study program titled "UST Rising Star Internship Program," is twofold:

  • To provide financial assistance to students with limited resources, and;
  • To assist students who have had limited exposure to business work environments to achieve career success after college

Corporate Sponsors Sign on for Pilot Program  

For UST freshmen Juan Avalos, Galilea Nunez, Alejandra Neria, Julianna Figuero Rojas and Lily Martinez, the cost of college is minimal because the program is structured to cover a substantial portion of UST's tuition costs.  In addition to the student becoming entry-level employees for the corporate sponsor, the companies offer financial support for their students' education.  Students supplement this funding with grants and scholarships.

The pilot program's corporate sponsors include M.D. Anderson, Tudor Pickering, Impact Fluids and KPMG.  These employers provide job assignments based on their company's needs. Positions are similar to a paid internship or other entry-level part-time work.

Student Lily Martinez Finds Way to Finance College

Student Lily Martinez, who has worked for KPMG, LLC throughout her four years attending Cristo Rey, wants to study biology at UST

"By the grace of God this work-study program has continued into college," Martinez said.  

"As a first-generation Latina and daughter of a construction worker and a housekeeper, I have a duty to my family and myself to go to college," Martinez said. "It was the president of Cristo Rey, Paul Posoli, who helped me find this program as a way to finance college, or I would not be attending University of St. Thomas. 

"This partnership between KPMG and UST is a promise to help me develop into a well-rounded, innovative, first-generation Latina with remarkable spirit in my community and in the workforce."

UST Career Services Support Network Promotes Success

In addition to financial assistance and work-study, the students have a UST support network that promotes their success in college. Students will learn resume preparation and other business and job search skills by working with a mentor from UST's Career Counseling Services.  They are required to meet with this mentor on a monthly basis.  

Along with Career Services mentoring, students are required to attend an orientation by the school and their sponsor.  The sponsor will provide the student and the UST mentor with an assessment of the student's work performance. The program also has an advisory board consisting of individuals within the Houston business community.  UST will track student outcomes to improve and grow the program.

UST Plans to Grow the Program to Hundreds of Students

"It is our goal to take this pilot program and build a robust corporate work-study program, which at any given time will serve hundreds of students or more from a variety of high schools," University of St. Thomas President Richard Ludwick said. "UST plans to expand the program by collaborating with specific employers or fields for student participants from the broader University community. This program will impact the student's post-college success in the career environment."

University of St. Thomas plans to grow the corporate sponsorships by creating a director of corporate relations position who will help the university coordinate these corporate partnerships.

University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas is Houston's Catholic University. For more than 70 years, UST has graduated students into successful careers in medicine, education, business, public administration and more.  As Houston grows, UST will continue to provide the strong leaders and skilled workers needed to meet those demands.

Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School

Christo Rey Jesuit is a College Preparatory School serving limited-income students in the Houston area.  The school has more than 500 students in grades 9-12.  After graduation, approximately 71 percent of students attend a four-year college.  The school, founded in 2008, is unique for its Corporate Work-Study Program workday. This program empowers students from economically challenged families to reach their full potential.


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