LU students return ‘Home for the Holidays’

As the fall semester concludes at Lamar University, the "Home for the Holidays" program sees LU students returning to their respective high schools, creating meaningful connections, sharing personal stories, and providing valuable insights into their college experiences. LU Students return to PNG High School

Initiated in 2018, the program employs an organic approach to attracting prospective students to LU, offering a non-traditional means of engagement with university offices.  

According to Assistant Director of Admissions Ellie Maples, “Home for the Holidays" plays a critical role in connecting high school students with support services and reached over 800 students in the program’s sixth year.  

"It's important to provide connections for high school students, enabling them to reach support services and understand the questions they should be asking,” Maples said. “They can also envision themselves succeeding by hearing from someone who has already navigated the same journey from their own school.” 

Elizabeth Diaz Arreola, a first-year participant in the program, shared her college experiences with students at Dayton High School, aiming to dispel misconceptions about college and providing essential information. 

“Going to college can come off as scary, and by helping provide information and clear up any misconceptions about college to people my age positively impacts them by giving them information they might have never known otherwise,” Arreola said.  

Speech and Hearing Sciences student Mary Wernig returned to Orangefield High School, and created a student-centric nature in her approach during her "Home for the Holidays" session.  

“I wanted to be that resource I wish I had in high school. More than discussing personal experiences, I aimed to answer any questions the high schoolers had about the college decision-making process,” Wernig said.  

Wernig, who is now an LU Ambassador and member of the Reaud Honors College, also emphasized how to make the most of the students’ time in high school.   

“Younger students were able to get advice on what programs they can participate in while in high school to help them prepare for college, like AP and dual-enrollment classes. Seniors were able to figure out what steps they needed to take following their acceptance,” Wernig said. 

LU students visiting Port Neches-Groves High SchoolSergio Mendez returned to Nederland High School, uses these sessions as a safe space for students to address sensitive topics such as financial aid.  

“During one of my visits, students were often hesitant to ask about sensitive topics such as financial aid, but when I took the time to speak with students one-on-one, I realized how many questions they had concerning the topic,” Mendez said.  

During the sessions, Mendez also aimed to help students feel less stressed about the ins and outs of going to college.  

I connected with the students by reminding them that I was in their shoes not too long ago, and spoke to them realistically about how I pursued different aspects of college from scholarships to classes,” Mendez said. “It only took a couple of minutes to help students feel more optimistic about the opportunity to attend college despite the financial setbacks.”  

"Home for the Holidays" continues to bridge the gap between Lamar University and its prospective students, fostering connections and dispelling myths about the college experience.