HCC Rising Leaders Conference Creates New Opportunities in Fort Bend County

ABOVE: Chase Untermeyer, international business consultant, speaks to high school students and their parents from Fort Bend Independent School District and Stafford Municipal School District during the inaugural Rising Leaders Conference at the HCC Stafford Campus. The Rising Leaders Conference showcased the HCC Honors College and its recent expansion to HCC Southwest.

In a packed room at the Houston Community College (HCC) Stafford Campus, more than 100 high school students and their parents learned about the HCC Honors College and the opportunity to complete the first two years of college at no expense to their families.

Stafford High School sophomore, Nia Scott, was among the crowd of intrigued listeners.

“I never thought about going to a community college,” Scott said. “But after what I learned about HCC my opinion has changed.”

Scott, along with students from Stafford Municipal School District and Fort Bend Independent School District, attended the first-ever Rising Leaders Conference to celebrate the expansion of the HCC Honors College to the Stafford Campus.

“Schools around this district need to be aware of what’s coming up at the Stafford Campus and students need to know what opportunities we have so they can be aspiring leaders,” said Neeta Sane, HCC Board of Trustees, District VII.

Led by Trustee Sane and Dr. Madeline Burillo, HCC Southwest President, the Rising Leaders Conference showcased the elite nature of the HCC Honors College, which will recruit 25 highly motivated, and academically gifted individuals. The advantages of being an HCC Honors College student include:

-A combination of grants and scholarships that cover tuition expenses and books

-Small, interactive classes with highly qualified professors

-Service-learning activities

-Travel and study opportunities abroad

“There’s a 92-percent graduation rate at the Honors College,” HCC Honors College Central Director David Wilcox said. “Many graduates get accepted to Harvard, Yale and Columbia. That’s pretty phenomenal!”

For this invitation-only event, high school counselors hand-picked students based on a 3.5 GPA or higher, financial need and desire to transfer to a four-year institution.

Dr. Burillo pointed out, “Becoming a leader in life requires an education, individual energy, commitment, ingenuity, and teamwork. When you attend the HCC Honors College, it supports all of these qualities.”

During the event, students heard from a panel of HCC Honors College graduates, along with entrepreneurs and community leaders including international business consultant, Chase Untermeyer, City of Rosenberg Mayor, Cynthia McConathy, and small business owner, Tristen Sutton. They shared college and career stories and explained how they overcame obstacles to become successful.

“Someone once said luck is where preparation meets opportunity,” Untermeyer said. “Opportunity takes work. Each student should have that goal and the determination to make opportunity happen.”

For Scott, this conference changed her perception about HCC and she plans to apply to the elite Honors College.

“Now, I want to go here. I don’t want student-loan debt. To me this is a great opportunity to take advantage of and you might as well go for it.”

To learn more about the HCC Honors College, contact Deanne Schlanger, director of HCC Honors College Southwest at Deanne.schlanger@hccs.edu or 713.718.5675. View a list of acceptance criteria at hccs.edu/honorscollege.