Summer Begins for UTEP’s Popular P3

By Daniel Perez

UTEP News Service

For the Antillon boys, summer is synonymous with UTEP’s Professional and Public Programs, popularly known as P3.

Christian, 12, has been coming for five summers and has taken enough courses to fill a catalog, said his mother, Georgiana Antillon, director of UTEP’s Enrollment Services Center. He and his 7-year-old brother, Samuel, started lessons June 4 at different locations around campus.UTEP's Professional and Public Programs offers a variety of courses for youth and adults in the summer months. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News ServiceUTEP's Professional and Public Programs offers a variety of courses for youth and adults in the summer months. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

This summer, Christian will study robotics and Samuel will study writing. Together, they already have taken classes in math, dance, French, science, ballet, acting, drawing, public speaking and Mandarin.

“I like the teachers and the quality of instruction. I like that my sons get excited and come to my office after classes and start conversations about what they did that day,” Antillon said. “I’ve found that these classes make them want to learn more. It broadens their imaginations and gives them a better idea of what they can accomplish.”

The University of Texas at El Paso started P3, originally known as PACE – Professional and Continuing Education – in the mid-1980s. Courses are scheduled year-round, but the student population increases during the summer as families seek interesting and reasonably priced alternatives to child care.

P3 registered almost 1,000 students for its popular Kidz on Campus program – a nine-week series of camps for children entering kindergarten through 12th grade – during its May 5 registration kickoff at UTEP’s Kelly Hall. The enrollment event included free food, giveaways, and information about the more than 400 classes offered through the Kidz on Campus program and P3’s other offerings in languages, professional training, community enrichment and children’s activities, including art, sports, food preparation, technology, college readiness and physical activity. 

Stephanie Glover, P3 associate director, said the Kidz on Campus program – the most popular of the summer offerings – has surveyed participants the past two years to stay in touch with what works and what needs to be enhanced.

“The result is a nine-week program that addresses the needs of the El Paso community,” Glover said.

While beneficial on its own, Kidz on Campus is regarded as a gateway that introduces and strengthens UTEP’s positive brand with children and their families, said Cindy Juarez, the program manager. P3 introduces and familiarizes the youngsters with the campus, which often creates a bond that they remember when it comes time to enroll in college.

“We want the students to see UTEP as part of their future,” Juarez said.

She took pride in the program’s efforts to stay fresh and open to new ideas, especially those that come from students and their families. In the past, that has included the timing of courses and the extended morning and afternoon care option. This year, P3 initiated a half-day curriculum for kindergarten students from 9 a.m. to noon. Each week focuses on a different topic but always incorporates writing, reading and hands-on activities.

The students return because they enjoy the spontaneity of the classes where they can exercise their imaginations, while the parents like the extra help the students get with the basics, said David Ramirez, a P3 instructor since 2007.

Ramirez, a substitute teacher at Sanchez Middle School, earned his bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies from UTEP in 2008 and expects to earn his Master of Education Instructional Specialist in December 2012. He said he returns to P3 because it challenges his abilities.

“At UTEP you work with children from different cultures and different parts of the world. My job is to work with these different, young personalities and open their minds.”

The sight of so many young Kidz on Campus students at UTEP brings a lot of joy to Socorro “Soco” Herrera, a program coordinator.

“I know that the students will learn a lot from our camps, and leave with many great memories from their time here,” Herrera said. “I see the satisfaction in their little faces and know those faces will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

For more information, visit ppp.utep.edu.