14:38 PM

Creating Brighter Futures for High School Students


By Ashley Kilday, Contributing Writer

Lydian Zamarripa, a Social Work junior, first heard about the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning's Community Engagement Grant through a campus-wide email.

“I immediately had an idea for it,” she said. “I was already working with an organization called Houston Community Group that my best friend and I founded last semester. We had been talking about how to get some grant funding.”

lydianAs its name implies, Houston Community Group works on community projects. Zamarripa shared how the team has gone into neighborhoods to interview residents about the area. “We ask questions about the strengths of the area and what they would like to see improved. We’ve done community clean-up and community meet-ups that help neighbors get to know one another, and we helped get people to the voting polls last November. We also do career assistance, helping write résumés and filling out applications with residents,” she said.

Zamarripa recalled how she helped her younger brother with his college application. “I wanted to give this opportunity to other kids,” she said.

For her project, the “Brighter Future Initiative,” she wanted to build on the efforts of the Houston Community Group. She was awarded a $1,500 Community Engagement grant to purchase SAT books, reference books, and essay-writing tools to help local students get college-ready. The project also helps students with summer program applications. “One of our students received a full ride to a study abroad program in Taipei, Taiwan!” Zamarripa shared. 

She’s also working toward being able to cover college application fees, but for now, her focus is on securing volunteer power. “We have editors on our team right now, as well as some people who will be SAT math and reading tutors later in the semester,” she said. “I think now that we’re up and running, we’re also getting help from the University to broadcast our project, so things will go pretty smoothly.”

The Houston Community Group is working with seven high school students, all nominated by faculty at their schools. Zamarripa hopes these students will have a sense of direction for their future as they move into their senior year of high school.

“I want them to have their personal statements and essays completed and to have worked on their SAT scores so that when they take the tests in April, the results are promising for them,” she said. “We want to give them a head start before next year.”

For information about the project or to volunteer, email Zamarripa at lydianzamarripa@gmail.com.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.