Creating a hope and a future
The Mother-Daughter Program raises expectations – the expectations of a segment of society that has often been overlooked. This innovative program helps young Hispanic girls and their mothers to create their own hopes and their own bright futures.
In 1986, the Mother-Daughter Program was developed at the University of Texas at El Paso with the express purpose of empowering young Hispanic women. This rapidly growing segment of our nation’s population has long been challenged by chronic academics under achievement leading to low paying jobs in the work force.
Concerned individuals from UTEP, the YWCA, El Paso’s school districts and the El Paso community at-large saw only one clear path – education. The organizers’ long-term goal was to create the possibility of a more equitable representation of Hispanic woman in the professional careers through higher education.
The approach is very different from other education retention and leadership programs in three important ways:
- Sixth-grade girls, rather than high school girls, are the focus of the program’s primary efforts.
- Mothers are considered an integral part of the program and must participate with their daughters.
- The girls and their mothers learn about their many life options by seeing success firsthand in successful Hispanic university students and career women from every walk of life who participate in the program as role models.
How the Mother-Daughter Program works: Goals and Activities
Setting goals is essential to success. The Mother-Daughter Program works hard to impart the habit of goal-setting to its participants. At the same time, organizers know that goal-setting is equally important to the program itself.
The Mother-Daughter Program organizes activities for the girls and their mothers around four broad goals:
1. Build the girls’ self-esteem. Encourage them to complete their high school education and to raise their expectations of attending college.
2. Orient the girls to higher education and professional careers.
3. Improve the quality of preparation for higher education by providing academic and life-skills training.
4. Increase parental commitment to higher education by involving the mothers as well as the daughters in the education decision-making process.
The 400 to 500 mother-daughter teams meet one Saturday each month for a year while the girls are in sixth grade. Activities are planned around four important areas of development- academics, personal, career, and community life. Sessions are held at the university, the schools or in the local community.
The university sponsors four key activities during the year:
Open house and UTEP Tour – For the most of the mothers and daughters, this is their first visit to the university campus. They meet successful Hispanic female students and are introduced to campus life with presentations and actual hands-on participation in classes and laboratories. For the first time, many of the girls begin to think and talk about the possibility of attending college.
Career Day – This event exposes the mothers and daughters to dozens of outstanding professional Hispanic women. These women set aside time in their busy schedules to come to UTEP and speak to the mother-daughter participants. These Hispanic professional women become role models for the participants by sharing stories of their own lives and the sometimes rocky paths that have led to their successful careers.
Leadership Conference – Leadership skills come form firsthand involvement in leadership activities. Mother-Daughter participants start to work early in the year on community service projects. They work with sponsoring teachers, district and campus coordinators and university program staff members to identify, plan, carry out and document their projects, which they present at the annual Leadership Conference.
Summer Camp and Awards Ceremony - The summer camp on campus is an intensive full day immersion of university activities that gives the girls a well rounded view of and appreciation for campus life. The girls and their mothers attend selected university classes, seminars and activities to complete the yearly objectives of the program. On the final day of the program, the mother-daughter graduates are honored with a luncheon and presentation of certificates. This ceremony reinforces the concept that the participants have accomplished something important for themselves.
In the months when major events are not scheduled at UTEP, the girls and their mothers participate in activities planned by the school districts that take place in the schools and at various sites in the community.
Community activities introduce the participants to the many resources around them. They may visit Texas Tech Medical Center, City Hall, El Paso’s historic missions, the public library, the El Paso Museum of Art, or they may attend a symphony or participate in a women’s health fair.
Each experience broadens the participants’ development as individuals and community members.
AFTER THE SIXTH GRADE EXPERIENCE
The Mother-Daughter Program’s coordinators maintain an active role in the participants’ lives through the daughters’ first year of college. The program offers a number of seminars at UTEP for the girls as they move through middle school and high school, as well as academic counseling for nineth and tenth grade girls and college admissions counseling for high school juniors and seniors. Mother-Daughter alumnae also participate in the program’s Career Day and Leadership Conference each year, assisting with the community service projects and serving as young role models for the sixth-grade participants.
A Bright Future
Each year more mothers and daughters who have participated in the Mother-Daughter Program are returning to their neighborhoods and sharing their hope and inspiration with, their families, friends, neighbors and schools. This program is also helping create a brighter future for the El Paso community by helping many of its bright, young Hispanic women to realize their potential as future leaders.
For more information call or write to:
Dr. Josefina Villamil Tinajero
Mother-Daughter/Father-Son Program Office