Power to Achieve
The University of Houston boasts lots of bright, high-achieving students. But just blocks away from a campus bustling with world-class scholarship is Jack Yates High School, a struggling school located in one of Houston’s toughest neighborhoods. It was – at least to one UH student – an opportunity to make a difference.
Now, through the tutoring program founded by Kamran Ahmed when he was undergraduate biochemistry major, dozens of UH students have volunteered to provide one-on-one help in math, science, English and social studies to Yates students. The idea for the Achieve program was born in 2006 after Ahmed read a newspaper article about Houston schools with low test scores and graduation rates. Yates was among them, although it since has improved its rating by the Texas Education Agency. Ahmed went to meet the principal of Yates to find out how UH students could help. The Yates staff was eager to have UH volunteers at the school to tutor students struggling to pass the TAKS test. "In a tough, impoverished neighborhood like Houston’s Third Ward, it helps for Yates students to have college-age mentors who can stress the importance of higher education”, Ahmed said. In addition to tutoring, UH volunteers help the students at Yates fill out college applications and financial aid forms.
The Achieve program also helps the UH students realize their goals. Ahmed, who graduated in May, feels that what he learned outside the classroom was a crucial part of his UH experience. He has been accepted to Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota. The Achieve program will continue as part of the Metropolitan Volunteer Program.