Claremont, Calif. (September 22, 2014)—Pitzer College names Richard “Rick” Cruz, assistant superintendent of college readiness for the Houston Independent School District, the winner of the second annual 2014 Pitzer College Core Values Award. Pitzer’s Office of Admission created the award to recognize a high school educator whose work exemplifies Pitzer’s core values of social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement and environmental sustainability.
Cruz is the co-founder of the EMERGE Fellowship, a nonprofit that helps students from underserved communities in the Houston area attend the country’s top colleges. EMERGE guides high school students as they prepare for college entrance exams, hone interview skills and complete college applications. In 2012, he received the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Education Award for the City of Houston.
After graduating from Yale University, Cruz joined Teach For America and became a fifth grade bilingual teacher at Joe E. Moreno Elementary School in Houston, where he was named Teacher of the Year.
EMERGE Fellowship in Houston, TX, is one of more than 25 community-based organizations that are part of the Pitzer Pathways Initiative, a program designed to increase the College’s outreach to first-generation, disadvantaged and nontraditional age students. Through this and other Office of Admission initiatives, applications to Pitzer from students who are the first in their families to go to college have increased by 44 percent since 2013.