In the next few years, the West Side of San Antonio near downtown is going to get a lot more upgrades thanks to the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The San Antonio City Council unanimously approved the sale of two city-owned lots located at 506 Dolorosa and 702 Dolorosa which will support UTSA’s School of Data Science, National Security Collaboration Center, as well as the construction of faculty and student housing.
“This is a catalytic investment which will spur economic growth, and help to erase the false boundary highways like I-10 can create,” Councilman Roberto Treviño said. “It will connect the campus and many West Side neighborhoods, such as Prospect Hill, to our urban core where the efforts of our students and professionals can be leveraged with new and emerging partnerships with the private sector.
In September, UTSA received a $70 million commitment from the University of Texas System Board of Regents for construction of two new facilities at its Downtown Campus for a National Security Collaboration Center and a proposed School of Data Science.
According to a study conducted by Frost & Sullivan for the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, two-thirds of global cybersecurity employers said they did not have enough employees to address current threats. By 2022, it is estimated there will be a demand for an additional 1.8 million information security and technology professionals in the United States to keep critical information and intellectual property safe.
The National Security Collaboration Center will comprise 80,000-square-feet of innovation space, laboratories and research facilities and will serve as a hub for government, university and industry partners in the cybersecurity field. It will focus on forensics, visualization and analytics, network security, cyber training/workforce development, big data analytics and privacy, post-quantum cryptography, cyber physical systems and embedded security, security of the cloud, attack and threat modeling and mitigation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, platform and software integrity, and hardware integrity.
UTSA has already established federal partnership agreements with the National Security Agency, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the U.S. Secret Service, 24th Air Forces Cyber and 25th Air Force. To further strengthen the ecosystem, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories have all executed partnership agreements with UTSA to work within the NSCC.
The proposed School of Data Science will include UTSA’s existing departments of Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Statistics & Data Sciences, Information Systems and Cyber Security, and the UTSA Open Cloud Institute. These departments will be co-located in the new facility.
UTSA will continue to offer bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs to expand the pipeline of highly trained professionals who protect government and business networks. Enrollment in these programs is expected to grow significantly after the new building is opened.
The UTSA Downtown Campus is also home to the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, the UTSA College of Public Policy, and several programs in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.
Scholarships for Black Students
10 Black Scholarship Programs in 2020 That Are Still Open Despite COVID-19
Every year, there are many programs that give away scholarships to thousands of African American and other minority students. In 2020, though, many of these programs have been cancelled and/or postponed because of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. However, we were able to find at least 10 Black scholarship programs that are still open. Here they are:
#1 – Jack and Jill of America Foundation Need-Based Scholarships: Offered to high school seniors who will attend and maintain a full-time status at an accredited, four-year post-secondary institution, starting in the fall of the year and working toward a bachelor’s degree. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/jack-and-jill-of-america-foundation-providing-need-based-scholarships.html
#2 – Walmart Foundation First Generation Scholarship For HBCU Students: Offered through Walmart’s foundation, the program specifically helps students who are enrolled at any HBCU or PBI (Primarily Black Institution) across the country. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/walmart-foundation-first-generation-scholarship-hbcu-students.html
#3 – Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund: Founded by Jay-Z and his philanthropist mother, Gloria, this program helps low income students advance their education by giving them the resources they need to enroll in college, pay the tuition, and successfully finish college on time. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/jay-z-shawn-carter-scholarship-fund.html
#4 – Jesse Jackson’s PUSH Excel Scholarship Program: This program encourages servant leadership potential in scholars, and pushes students to develop a passion for social justice and social change. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/jessie-jackson-push-excel-scholarship-program-three-awards.html
#5 – McDonald’s Black and Positively Golden Scholarships: This partnership between McDonald’s and the Thurgood Marshall Fund gives scholarship awards to deserving students that are attending HBCUs and PBIs across the United States. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/03/tmcf-mcdonalds-black-positively-golden-scholarship-program.html
#6 – Apple’s HBCU Scholarship Program: Program for exceptional students currently attending an HBCU with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must be working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or a Ph.D. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/09/apple-40-million-hbcu-scholarship-program-summer-internship.html
#7 – Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship: A program for graduating high school seniors who can demonstrate their ability to lead and serve their communities. Students are also expected to be able to demonstrate a level of commitment to making a significant impact at their school and society in general. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/20k-scholarships-from-coca-cola-program-foundation.html
#8 – Gucci Changemakers Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Program: A global program that promotes unity, diversity and inclusion through it’s Gucci Changemakers program. The program offers more than $1 million in scholarships that will be allocated to financing the education of at least 70 fashion students. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/gucci-changemakers-diversity-inclusion-scholarship.html
#9 – Foot Locker/ United Negro College Fund Scholarship Program: A partnership between the Foot Locker Foundation, Inc. and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to fund a scholarship program for students attending a UNCF member college or university during the fall of the current year. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2020/05/foot-locker-united-negro-college-fund-scholarship-program.html
#10 – Davis Scholarship For Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math): Willma H. Davis has partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to establish a scholarship to encourage minority female students to pursue a future career in the STEM fields. Candidates must be classified as sophomore, junior, or senior in the Fall and attend a UNCF-member institution. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2020/05/willma-h-davis-scholarship-for-women-in-stem.html
For more 2020-2021 scholarships, visit BlackScholarships.org
Princeton’s First Black Valedictorian
Nicholas Johnson, an operations research and financial engineering concentrator from Montreal, has been named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020.
Johnson is the first black valedictorian in Princeton’s history.
He said he appreciates the encouragement he has received at Princeton in developing his academic interests. The University’s support through opportunities including international internships and cultural immersion trips to Peru, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom were especially significant, Johnson said. But most of all, he treasures his relationships with his classmates.
“My favorite memories of my time at Princeton are memories of time spent with close friends and classmates engaging in stimulating discussions — often late at night — about our beliefs, the cultures and environments in which we were raised, the state of the world, and how we plan on contributing positively to it in our own unique way,” Johnson said.
Johnson plans to spend this summer interning as a hybrid quantitative researcher and software developer at the D. E. Shaw Group before beginning Ph.D. studies in operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fall 2020.
Along with his concentration in operations research and financial engineering, he is pursuing certificates in statistics and machine learning, applied and computational mathematics, and applications of computing.
His research has focused primarily on sequential decision-making under uncertainty, optimization, and the ethical considerations that must be made given the increasing role of algorithmic decision-making systems.
His senior thesis, “Sequential Stochastic Network Structure Optimization with Applications to Addressing Canada’s Obesity Epidemic,” focuses on developing high-performance, efficient algorithms to solve a network-based optimization problem that models a community-based preventative health intervention designed to curb the prevalence of obesity in Canada.
This work, supervised by Miklos Racz, assistant professor of operations research and financial engineering, also has applications to public health interventions designed to increase adherence to strict social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Johnson has another ongoing research project supervised by Yacine Ait-Sahalia, the Otto A. Hack ’03 Professor of Finance and professor of economics, in which he is developing a reinforcement learning agent to execute large financial trade orders with minimal market distortion.
During his junior year, Johnson conducted an independent research project, “Generating Privacy Preserving Synthetic Datasets,” supervised by Prateek Mittal, associate professor of electrical engineering, in which he developed a machine learning system to more robustly anonymize datasets than existing alternatives. He presented this work at the spring 2019 Electrical Engineering Symposium and the 2019 Center for Statistics and Machine Learning Symposium.
Among his other professors, William Massey, the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, and Dannelle Gutarra Cordero, a lecturer in African American studies, were also influential.
“Professor Massey inspired me by sharing his ever-present love for operations research and through his advocacy for black and African American students in STEM fields,” Johnson said. “He encouraged me to pursue increasingly ambitious research projects and to share my work at academic conferences. Professor Gutarra introduced me to academic writing during my first-year Writing Seminar. She was instrumental in helping me develop my skills as an effective academic writer and communicator, and she motivated me to become a writing fellow.”
In addition to serving as a writing fellow at Princeton’s Writing Center, Johnson is editor of Tortoise: A Journal of Writing Pedagogy. He is a member of Whitman College, where he has served as a residential college adviser. He is also a member of the Princeton chapter of Engineers Without Borders and served as its co-president in 2018.
As a rising senior, Johnson worked as a software engineer in machine learning at Google’s California headquarters.
He previously interned at Oxford University’s Integrative Computational Biology and Machine Learning Group, developing and implementing a novel optimization technique under the supervision of Aleksandr Sahakyan, principal investigator and group head. He presented the project at Princeton’s inaugural Day of Optimization in October 2018 and at the 25th Conference of African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences in June 2019, where his project was recognized with the Angela E. Grant Poster Award for Best Modeling.
Johnson has interned at Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, and he participated in Whitman’s exchange program with Morningside College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in March 2017.
Among his academic honors, Johnson is a recipient of the Class of 1883 English Prize for Freshmen in the School of Engineering, a two-time recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, and co-recipient with Sommers of the Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in fall 2019 and to Tau Beta Pi in 2018, where he served as president of the Princeton Chapter in 2019.
Johnson is a graduate of Selwyn House School and attended Marianopolis College, both in Westmount, Quebec.
By Denise Valente, Princeton University, Office of Communications
Photo by Lisa Festa, Center for Career Development
African American Studies Curriculum across Texas High Schools
April 17, 2020 will literally be in the history books because it was a historic day in Texas. After years of meetings, organizing, and advocating, The African American Studies course which is only the second ethnic studies course for Texas students received a unanimous final board approval last Friday to approve an elective African Studies Course to be taught across high schools throughout Texas.
Dallas ISD was the first to pilot the course after the Mexican American studies gained statewide approval back in 2018. Under the leadership of Texas State Board of Education Member, Marisa Perez, one of our very own San Antonio natives Dr. Lawrence Scott, Texas A&M University- San Antonio professor led the San Antonio advisory team of 40 experts around Texas and the nation to make this once advocated proposal a reality. There were other advisory teams in Houston, Dallas, and Austin as well. Texas State Board of Education Trustee Aicha Davis (Dallas) who proposed and formulated the course brought representatives from all the advisory teams together in Austin to prioritize content and curriculum standards prior to the 1st and 2nd readings at the TX State Board of Education.
Proponents of the course stressed that a course such as the African America Studies would give students an opportunity to “see themselves” when they study. The course is said to be available as early as this fall.
Congratulations to The Texas African American Studies Course Curriculum Advisory Team (San Antonio) on your efforts and success.
Dr. Donna Donna Y Ford, Distinguished Professor, Ohio State University
Dr. Cary Carey Latimore, History Department Chair, Trinity University
Professor Mario Marcel Salas, African American Studies Professor/Author/Historian, University of Texas at San Antonio / President KROV
Dr. Karla Broadus, Director of African American Studies Dept., University of Texas at San Antonio
Dr. Dorinda Rolle, Professor of African American Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio
Dr. Claudia García-Louis, Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio
Ms. La Juana Chambers Tacit Grower LJ, President, San Antonio African American Community Archive Museum
Dr. Daina Berry, Associate Dean/Professor, University of Texas, Austin
Dr. Keffrelyn D. Brown, Professor, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Anthony Brown, Professor, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Nicole Carr, Assistant Professor English, Texas A&M University San Antonio
Dr. Ramona Pittman, Professor, Texas A&M University of San Antonio
Dr. Dwonna Goldstone, Associate Professor of History/ Director of the African American Studies Program, Texas State University
Mr. Cary Clack, Senior Columnist, San Antonio Express News
Ms. Morgan Jones, Learning & Development Specialist, Spurs Sports and Entertainment
Dr. Paula Johnson, Director / IDRA EAC-South, Intercultural Development Research Association
Ms. Laura Thompson, CEO TAAN TV/Who’s Who SA/Former TX State Representative District 120, The African American Network (TAAN)
Dr. Aaron J Griffen, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Author/Consultant, DSST Public Schools/Prosperity Educators, LLC Denver, CO
Dr. Marcus Croom, Research Scholar, Durham Public Schools
Dr. Stuart Rhoden, Professor/Author, Arizona State University
Ms. Brandi Pace, Teacher/Racial Equity Committee, Ft. Worth Independent School District
D.L. Grant Carver, Executive Historic Carver Library/Antoinette Franklin Entrepreneur/Founder, Talented Tenth Scholars/Author Library Association/Deltas
Ms. Quincy Boyd, Regional Director Leadership ISD, Houston, TX
Dr. Milton Fields, Associate Superintendent, Judson Independent School District
Ms. La Quita Dalton, Secondary Teacher, Judson Independent School District
Ms. Amy Carter, Dual Credit Teacher/Adjunct Professor Floresville Independent School District/Coastal Bend College
Ms. Graciela Escobedo-Bell, Leadership Coordinator, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Tiffany Grant, Chief of Staff, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Edwina L. Salas, Reading Specialist, San Antonio Independent School District
Mr. Jason Rochon, Secondary Teacher, San Antonio Independent School District
Mr. Ronald Tipton, CTE Educator, South San Independent School District
Trustee José A. Macias, Jr., Board Trustee, District 2, Alamo Community College District
Trustee Alicia Perry, School Board Trustee District 2, San Antonio Independent School District
Dr. Langston Williams Jr, Pastor/Retired School Principal Magnolia Church / San Antonio Independent School District
Dr. Mateen A. Diop, Principal/Executive Director, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Jennifer McCall, J Renee Love, International Baccalaureate Curriculum Specialist, San Antonio Independent School District
Ms. Antoinette Franklin, Founder, Talented Tenth Scholars/Author, San Antonio Library Association
Dr. D. Anthony Miles, Entrepreneur/Researcher/Statistician, Miles Development Industries Corporation
Lawrence Scott, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development Department of Educator and Leadership Preparation,
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
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