UTRGV, Harmony sign MOU to help students transition from high school to college

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They want you not just to graduate from Harmony schools. They want you to graduate from college. Your success after you leave them is just as important to them as it is to us.

Harmony Public Schools and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday to work together to ensure success for Harmony students at UTRGV.

Harmony and UTRGV signed the MOU during a late-morning ceremony on the UTRGV Brownsville campus. It commits UTRGV and Harmony to work to make the transition from high school to college for Harmony students a more seamless experience, Harmony and UTRGV officials said.

Harmony has two schools in Brownsville, Harmony Science Academy for younger students and Harmony School of Innovation, a college preparatory T-STEM academy designated by the Texas Education Agency.

“It’s not just about getting students in. It’s about getting students in and making them successful,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey said.

Harmony Public Schools and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

“We want you to come to school here, but more than anything, we want you to be successful,” he said. “I can’t tell you how delighted we are that Harmony schools has the same objective. Think about it. They want you not just to graduate from Harmony schools. They want you to graduate from college. Your success after you leave them is just as important to them as it is to us.”

“When you graduate from UTRGV, that’s the first step. We want you to get a good job. We want you to have a successful life and family, and so, student success is what it’s all about. We take a great amount of pride at UTRGV in the success of our students,” he said.

Umit Alpaslan, Harmony deputy superintendent of schools, said partnerships between universities and high schools are essential.

“Working together we know that we can provide the pathway to success for our alumni through an affordable and high-quality college education,” Alpaslan said. “Today, we commit ourselves to this success through this partnership with UTRGV. We promise to our 40,000 students at Harmony Public Schools around the state and UTRGV that we are here for you. You are our first priority and our legacy.”

Harmony Public Schools and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)
Harmony Public Schools and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Alpaslan said the MOU will make it possible for Harmony to provide UTRGV resources at campuses throughout the state, also part of making the transition from high school to college easier to navigate.

Harmony students, alumni and parents attended the ceremony alongside Bailey, Alpaslan and UTRGV and Harmony officials.

Among the student/alumni contingent were Karen Rivero, a sophomore, and Michel Harrison, a junior, both Harmony Brownsville alumna, who will become Harmony alumni coaches because of the MOU.

Harmony Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Umit Alpaslan, at left, signs a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Thursday, April 27, 2023, together with University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) President Guy Bailey at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Rivero said about 60 current seniors from Harmony Brownsville will be attending UTRGV in the fall, along with counterparts from Harmony schools in Houston, Austin and other parts of the state.

Harrison, who is studying health sciences, said the alumni coaches will work with first- and second-year students.

“For example, I’m not first generation, but I am first generation here in the U.S. And I had a lot of trouble getting used to college and finding out everything. So now, most of those kids are in the same situation I was in, and I’m going to be helping all of them,” she said.

Harmony Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Umit Alpaslan, at left, signs a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Thursday, April 27, 2023, together with University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) President Guy Bailey at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)
Harmony Public Schools and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)
Harmony Public Schools and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)
Harmony Public Schools and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the UTRGV Brownsville campus. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)