Rep. Cuellar Discusses Rural Education Opportunities with Navajo Nation in Zapata
– Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX28) spoke with Rex Lee Jim, Vice President of the Navajo Nation, David M. Brown, J.D., a graduate student at Harvard Medical School Global Health Delivery Program, as well as representatives from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) in Austin, and Zapata County at the Zapata County Technical and Advanced Education Center (ZTAC) in Zapata, Texas, on Tuesday to discuss the process behind building the ZTAC facility and the opportunities it has allotted the residents of area. The Navajo Nation plans to replicate the success of the ZTAC by building a similar facility within the Navajo Reservation of New Mexico.
In 2007, Congressman Cuellar announced a $1 million grant from the EDA to build a state-of-the-art modern facility for the benefit of the people of Zapata. Combined with efforts and investments from federal, state and local partners, the ZTAC was built and officially opened its doors in 2011 and has been used to provide educational and training opportunities for the residents of Zapata County and the surrounding area.
"I'm glad the Navajo Nation wants to replicate the success we have had here in Zapata with the ZTAC," said Congressman Cuellar. "This facility has given the community more choices and opportunities to educate and train both their students and their workforce. It is one of the best investments we have made for the people of Zapata."
During the summer, an average of 90 students take college courses at the ZTAC in subjects ranging from English, history, Texas and U.S. history and math from Laredo Community College via videoconferencing and in-person with adjunct professors. It has also offered varied classes with Texas A&M International University, Texas A&M University and Texas State Technical College.
Additionally, the Zapata County Independent School District offers college preparatory courses for high school students, who can earn up to 24 hours of college credit by the time they graduate.
The facility also serves as a community center for various meetings, trainings and workshops, including outreach and enrollment events for the Affordable Care Act sponsored by Congressman Cuellar. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement also uses the facility to train local officers, and the Mexican Consulate uses the facility to help provide information and promote wellness for Mexican nationals living in Zapata County.
The Navajo Nation is exploring building a facility within the Navajo reservation in New Mexico based on the ZTAC model that will serve to educate and train people in the areas of healthcare and other disciplines.
"Job skill training for Navajo healthcare workers in high-growth industry sectors such as Community Health Workers and Registered Nurses, provides good paying jobs for skilled workers and strengthens healthcare delivery systems for the people of the Navajo Nation," said David M. Brown, J.D., Inaugural Dean for ZTAC (2010-2013) and Masters of Medical Science Degree Candidate at Harvard Medical School.