Skip to content

New Degree Fills Critical Gap for Students with Learning Differences


With a finger on the pulse of the greater surrounding community, University of St. Thomas will extend an academic lifeline to qualified students with learning differences beginning in spring 2021. The new Associate of Applied Science in Pragmatic Studies degree is a full-time, two-year, face-to-face program designed to overcome obstacles blocking success for this population, in a traditional college setting.

UST’s program is the only one of its kind in Texas and one of only two in the United States.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America identifies

2.3 million public school children with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, executive functioning disorders, autism or attention issues that are crippling in academia.

Dr. Tera Jean Torres, director of the program, said often these students are too high functioning to enter vocational training programs and don’t qualify for vocational rehabilitation.

“Conversely, they struggle to pass college entrance exams and subsequently have significant difficulties in academia due to the lack of adequate support,” she said. “Yet these students can learn, create and contribute.”

For Patti Borgman, the new program is a godsend for her son.

“Finally, there is a college option in our community designed for students like my son, Chris, someone who is smart but needs a game plan that is structured differently,” she said. “This program is a beacon of hope.”

Chris Borgman already tried community college.

“I found myself feeling discouraged and lost,” he said. “UST gives me hope that I can become a more successful adult and employee.”

Degree Details: Unrivaled Opportunity

On top of classes, students fulfill an internship with a local business. Graduates emerge with a college degree and work experience, which will appeal to employers and could lead to future upward mobility in the workforce.

“They will possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to meet postsecondary goals, and demonstrate that learning differences don’t have to be a hindrance to success,” Torres said.

UST’s social justice tenets complement Torres’ deep expertise and commitment to leveling the playing field so all learners have access to an educational experience that is meaningful and individualized.  

Admission Information

For full admission requirements for the Associate of Applied Science, contact Dr. Tera Torres at 713-899-0690

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

share this post





Never miss an issue...

Subscribe to ENCOUNTER Magazine

Translate »