Scholarship Recipients Shine in ELC Academic English Program
- Jan 21, 2022
- English Language Center
- Alex Briseño
Frank Segura and Gabriela Elvir Reyes both clearly remember the moment they were each selected to receive a $2,500 scholarship to attend the Academic English Program (AEP) offered through Texas Global’s English Language Center (ELC).
For Segura, a native of Buenaventura, Colombia, and Reyes, who is from Tegucigalpa, Honduras—“proudly Hondureña,” she adds—earning this scholarship meant their dreams of learning English and attending graduate school in the United States were finally within reach.
“When I realized that I was one of the people who received the scholarship, it was one of the best days of my life,” Segura said. “I could feel that the dream of learning this language was still alive and closer than ever.”
As one of ELC’s seven programs, AEP is specifically geared toward international students who have intermediate proficiency in English and are preparing to pursue graduate school in the U.S. The comprehensive program meets 18 hours a week, with session lengths varying between five, eight, 10 or 15 weeks.
Supplementing traditional English learning with numerous practical workshops, AEP helps students navigate graduate school applications, standardized tests and resumé writing, along with other skills designed to set up students for success inside and outside the classroom.
A complementary track that also awards scholarships, the English Language Program (ELP), is tailored for students preparing for an undergraduate degree in the U.S or people looking to improve their English to secure better job opportunities.
“I started this program with almost zero English,” Reyes said. “But in one semester, I have been able to advance considerably. I had the best teachers. They were incredible on a professional and personal level.”
Inclusivity and respectfulness for all cultures was one of the many aspects Reyes said she appreciated about the program.
“What I like the most is being able to learn about different cultures at the same time that I learn another language,” Reyes added. “I have met colleagues from eight different countries on three different continents.”
Segura also spoke highly of his experience—specifically, the confidence that grew in him during the program, which allowed him to build new relationships.
‘A Joy to Teach’
One of Reyes and Segura’s instructors, Will Slade, noted that both students frequently arrived with questions or anecdotes they’d picked up from interactions with locals throughout the city of Austin. Slade also commended both students on their positivity and natural ability to teach.
“I consistently saw them show patience and generosity with their time and knowledge to classmates who had questions or were struggling with a concept that we were learning,” Slade said. “In class and outside of class, this group’s positive rapport and the linguistic and cultural exchange among students from around the globe was inspiring, and Frank and Gaby were central to that dynamic.”
Katie Dunlap, who also instructed both of the 2022 scholarship recipients, echoed similar sentiments. Despite a long commute, Dunlap said, Reyes was always the first student to arrive to class in the morning.
“Gabriela is such a warm and caring individual, and you can’t help but smile when you are around her. [Her] generosity is contagious, and it is apparent that all the other students love working with her,” Dunlap said.
As for Segura, Dunlap reported that he left a dazzling impression, combining outstanding attentiveness with a smile that lights up the room.
“Frank is fun-loving,” she added, “and that joy is passed on to all those he encounters. I loved all the thoughtful, observant questions he asked in class. He has such a curiosity when learning that makes him a joy to teach.”
The AEP program helps propel students along the path of their studies and into expanded career options. Segura says he loves his profession as an industrial engineer—but adds that becoming a teacher is one of his ultimate goals.
Reyes earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and hopes to pursue a master’s and a doctorate. As she explores her options for graduate school, Reyes says, she is certain that she wants to act as an agent of change.
ELC Scholarship Program History
After launching its scholarship program in 2003, the ELC has awarded a combined 135 scholarships for the AEP and ELP. The monetary tally on those 135 scholarships over nearly 20 years stands at $182,722 and counting.
The previous AEP scholarship recipients, awarded in the Fall 2021 semester, were Nazaré Gonga Hebo from Angola and Jeongku “Jake” Yun from South Korea.
Yun is a nontraditional student who ELC teachers say is driven and focused in class while also showing a great sense of humor and kindness toward classmates—one of those students the whole class will remember for years to come.
Hebo arrived in the U.S. from Angola with dreams of earning a master’s and doctorate degree in petroleum engineering and data science. But since English is not his native language, he knew the ELC could offer him solid steps toward improving his skills. Similar to the other successful AEP scholarship recipients, he helped fellow students adapt to the program.
“In addition to studying the classes in depth, I strive to do all the tasks and practice to the fullest,” Hebo said of his ELC class time. “Moreover, I leverage my spirit of cooperation and leadership to help ... the adaptation process for new students.
“It was for these reasons that ELC decided to congratulate me with a scholarship in recognition of my dedication and commitment, which I am very grateful for. I feel like I found an academic family."
The ELC continues to award scholarships at the end of each academic session, in May, August and December, and will continue its efforts to provide a language learning community for students like Yun, Hebo, Segura, Reyes and the many others who will follow.