Senior Helps Show Teens How to Make College Dreams Come True

Aaron Fields

Through the G-Force Mentoring Program, speech pathology senior Aaron Fields gives Conrad High School students advice about pursuing higher education.

Many students at Conrad High School don’t have anyone at home to go to for advice on getting into college. At school, though, they have Aaron Fields.

The UT Dallas senior works at the Dallas Independent School District campus three afternoons a week as part of the University’s G-Force Mentoring Program. Fields is one of 12 UT Dallas G-Force mentors who work in Dallas, Garland and Richardson high schools as part of a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board effort to boost enrollment of underrepresented students.

At Conrad’s Go Center, Fields answers questions, reviews applications and essays, and sometimes just hangs out with students.

“A lot of students don’t think there’s anything out there to help them pay for college,” Fields said. “I try to let them know there are a lot of scholarships available. I try to do all I can to provide as many opportunities for them as possible.”

Fields hopes his experiences can help others make college a reality.

Like many Conrad students, Fields was the first in his family to go to college. And like many of them, he needed financial assistance. This week, Fields will graduate with two degrees and zero debt thanks to his part-time job and scholarships. The Rowlett High School graduate received a Dallas Community College District Rising Star Program scholarship to attend Eastfield College and a Diversity Scholarship at UT Dallas.

Fields will receive a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology and audiology and a bachelor's in child learning and development. Fields also has applied to graduate school at the University.

Fields encourages Conrad students to consider community college, apply for scholarships and avoid student loans. He and other G-Force mentors helped 1,643 students with applications, financial aid workshops and essays in the 2014-15 academic year, said David Robinson Jr., assistant director of community engagement at UT Dallas, who oversees the workers.

Aaron Fields as mentor

In his role as a mentor to Conrad High School students like Yoselyn Diaz (left) and Lauren Aponte, Fields encourages them to consider community college, apply for scholarships and avoid student loans.

“These students are some of the University’s top ambassadors,” Robinson said. “Aaron is a shining example of the impact our mentors have on the community.”

The mentors also give college tours and assist with summer camps and college fairs.

“We have seen firsthand how effective student-to-student relationships can motivate young people to pursue higher education,” said Raul Hinojosa Jr., director of community engagement. “Aside from helping the students take action on applying for college, finding scholarships, or completing financial aid forms, the UT Dallas student mentors also have served as great ambassadors for the University in the community.”

Adria Green, a higher education advisor with the organization Education is Freedom who works at Conrad, said students enjoy talking to someone close to their age who is attending college.

“A lot of our students are interested in UTD,” Green said. “I think Aaron has made quite an impact because the kids see someone who actually goes there and it makes them feel like UTD is not untouchable.”

On a recent afternoon at the campus, Fields, wearing a UT Dallas T-shirt, showed students Yoselyn Diaz and Lauren Aponte how to research scholarship opportunities. Diaz said that she appreciates having someone to guide her through the application process.

“None of my family members have gone to college, so this is a real big help to me,” Diaz said. “You can’t do it all by yourself.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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