By Rebecca LaFlure

Killeen Daily Herald

Central Texas College recently launched a new student ambassador program and Transfer Center to support students on the path from high school to community college to a four-year or upper-level institution, CTC officials announced at Thursday's board meeting.

Funded by a $90,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the new resources will expand the college's outreach programs to local school districts and provide current CTC students with the tools necessary to transfer to a university upon completion of their associate degree.

The Transfer Center, now available for student use, is in room 119 of the Student Services Building. An open house for the center is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday.

"It's going to be a place where students can come any time, and we'll have scheduled activities for them to research four-year and upper-level institutions, and discover where they want to go, and what they want to study," said Barbara Merlo, CTC director of community relations and marketing.

Tarleton State University-Central Texas will have office hours in the center to answer questions and provide information to prospective students.

Operating out of the Transfer Center, six student ambassadors were hired this spring to serve as role models for future CTC students, as well as engage in high school recruiting events, campus tours and presentations at local schools.

"They (the ambassadors) are the cream of the crop of CTC and Tarleton students. Every one of them has a unique story to tell. Some of them will bring tears to your eyes because of the incredible life experiences they bring. They're going to attract a lot of students to CTC," said Greg Griffith, recruitment retention coordinator.

The ambassadors will give campus tours, and visit Killeen Independent School District and Copperas Cove ISD schools to help high school seniors prepare for college. They also have plans to visit various eighth-grade career investigation classrooms to educate the students about possible career tracks.

"Sometimes, the best person to talk to a high school student is someone who has just been there. It'll be someone these students can relate to, and they may be able to overcome some barriers that someone like me couldn't with a student," Merlo said.

"I think they can talk to kids that aren't sure they can do college and convince them that they can make it happen."

CTC has two summer camps with KISD and CCISD in the works to help prepare eighth-graders for high school level math and science courses. The camps are also funded by the grant.

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