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Students Rise: Education at Work

StudentsRise_600x300As higher education continues to play a key role in the development of our nation’s future workforce, there is an ongoing need to provide first-generation and low-income students the opportunity to make that dream a reality. To help solve this issue on a local level, the University of St. Thomas launched the Rising Stars work-study program to give students with limited financial resources access to the best education possible and help them emerge from college as strong leaders with in-demand skills.

“At the heart of UST is the imperative to serve, especially those with limited access to educational excellence,” said Richard L. Ludwick, president of UST. “With this in mind, we launched the Rising Stars work-study program to propel scholarship-dependent students into the professional environment as future contenders for top positions.”

The Rising Stars program came to fruition after the University’s Chairman of the Board Curtis Huff had a notion to create a program that mirrored the successful Cristo Rey work-study model, in a college environment. Based on his own experiences growing up in a low-income neighborhood, Huff knows the importance of earning an education and the life-changing impact it can have on those who are dealt a challenging hand.

“I want to see students who don’t have great opportunities have the chance to attend college,” Huff said. “The Rising Stars program isn’t aimed at just helping the students, but it also helps the entire community.”’

In fall 2019 Huff and UST’s executive leadership formed a partnership with Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston and gave the first cohort of five Cristo Rey entering freshmen the opportunity to continue their educational journey at UST with little to no out-of-pocket tuition cost. The Rising Stars students gained valuable work experience by working onsite at their corporate sponsors’ offices throughout the academic school year and built personal connections that will influence them beyond college.

“There’s a strong need to have good employees, and the added benefit of the Rising Stars program is the fact that employers have the ability to watch these students mature and grow over the course of four years. It is an unbelievable opportunity and a worthwhile experience,” Huff said.

As the first cohort of Rising Stars gear-up to start their second year of college, UST is preparing to grow the program significantly for fall 2020. In order to continue on this upward trajectory, we are focused on building a robust network of like-minded corporate sponsors who will help us make a positive impact in the community and elevate the future workforce.

The Rising Stars program is mutually beneficial for both students and corporate sponsors.

Each student earns a substantial portion of UST’s tuition costs while simultaneously gaining relevant work experience.

In return, corporate sponsors receive reliable entry-level workers who are poised for future employment.


Benefits to your Business

Motivated talent

Diverse pipeline of skilled workers

Payroll cost savings

Community impact


Benefits to students

Affordable college education

Hands-on experience

Professional growth

New opportunities


Mallory Wendel ’11, Director of Corporate Relations   |   713-525-3507

Rising Stars Students:

  • Juan Avalos – The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • Galilea Nunez – The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • Alejandra Neria – Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.
  • Julianna Figeroa Rojas – Impact Fluid Solutions LP
  • Lily Martinez – KPMG
About the Author — Mallory Wendel ‘11

AvatarUniversity of St. Thomas alumna, Mallory Wendel ’11, is UST’s first director of corporate relations. Serving as a strategic brand ambassador for the university, Wendel engages with corporations of all shapes and sizes to establish innovative partnerships.

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