Renee García, Title V Conectado activity director

Renee García, Title V Conectado activity director


 Las Vegas, New Mexico – Earning a master’s degree in education is more affordable thanks to a new scholarship program at Highlands University.

The university’s School of Education is offering tuition and textbook scholarships earmarked for online graduate programs in curriculum and instruction, rehabilitation counseling, and special education.

The scholarship covers six online credit hours per semester. The next deadline to apply is in April 2016.

“By offering these education master’s degrees online we are bringing education into a student’s home environment, making it much more accessible,” said Renee García, activity director for Title V Conectado, the grant program that makes the graduate degrees possible. “Having more teachers with master’s degrees at schools benefits the overall educational process.”

The online courses are offered in the evening to accommodate teachers’ work schedules.

Funding for the scholarships comes from a five-year $2.1-million grant the U.S. Department of Education Title V Program awarded to Highlands in September 2014. Highlands established Title V Conectado, a Spanish word the university chose to symbolize connecting technology with education.

Since Title V Conectado was launched spring semester 2015, 38 teachers have been awarded scholarships to pursue their M.A. in the School of Education. To be eligible for the scholarships, teachers must already be admitted to one of the three School of Education graduate programs that are part of the grant.

García said statistics show that Hispanics have lower levels of degree completion at the graduate level in education.

“Hispanic teachers with advanced credentials are not only more effective in the classroom, they are also strong role models for all their students – including their Hispanic students – teaching them to dream big,” García said. “Conectado provides a prime opportunity for Hispanics and other minorities to advance their careers and leverage negotiations for higher salaries. Non-Hispanics may also apply for the scholarships.”

Title V is a U.S. Department of Education program that provides grants to assist Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) like Highlands in developing new educational opportunities for Hispanic students. HSIs are higher education insititutions that have at least a 25 percent undergraduate enrollment of Hispanic students.

Fall semester at Highlands, 56.6 percent of the undergraduate student population is Hispanic.

Evonne Roybal-Tafoya, Educational Outreach Services director, wrote the successful U.S. Department of Education grant for Title V Conectado. She administers the grant.

García assumed her responsibilities as the Title V Conectado activity director fall semester. Most recently, she was the College and Career Readiness staff manager at the New Mexico Public Education Department for more than two years. Prior to that, García worked at Luna Community College for 12 years, including positions as the academic director for the Business and Professional Studies Department and program coordinator for the Title V – Activity III program.

García is a Las Vegas, New Mexico native who earned both her MBA and BBA from Highlands. While at Luna, García also taught courses such as principles of marketing and human resources management.

The U.S. Department of Education grant also funded several new faculty positions in the Highlands School of Education to teach the online courses.

More information about the Title V Conectado program, including the scholarship application, is online at

Teachers may also request a scholarship application by contacting Pauline Maestas at or 505-454-3225. Completed applications may be mailed to Title V Conectado, New Mexico Highlands University, P.O. Box 9000, Las Vegas, NM 87701. Or drop them off in the Title V Conectado office at 917 11th St. on the second floor of the Industrial Arts Building, Room 213.