Fifty Houston-area high school rising seniors are experiencing a life-changing, week-long program at Texas Southern University this week thanks, in part, to the generosity of an entrepreneurial benefactor and the sponsorship of two dedicated entities – the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and Strada Education Network.

TSU is hosting these 50 students as part of the TMCF Fleischer HBCU Scholars program – with the goal of serving first-generation, under-resourced prospective college students by providing a unique opportunity to experience college life, entrepreneurship and business throughout the week. Students reside on campus at TSU, attending classes, developing business plans, visiting local companies, talking with business professionals, interacting with college students, and hearing presentations from various professionals on campus.

TSU is one of three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) selected by TMCF to participate in the pilot version of the Fleischer Scholars program funded by Strada Education Network. When the original program started in Arizona, the Fleischer Scholars program was intended to provide deserving Arizona-area high school juniors with an opportunity to experience college life, entrepreneurship, and business during a week-long residential program. 

Program participant Tarah Peart, a rising senior at William B. Travis High School in Fort Bend Independent School District, said she became aware of the program because of exposure at her school’s campus through posters and her counselor. Never having been on a college campus, Peart said she was interested in attending because of the cost-free week-long stay and campus experience. She says she is looking forward to the program’s fun activities and the competition.  “It’s very interactive, that is what I like about it.” 

To kick off the program at TSU, participants attended a session where entrepreneur Mort Fleischer, founder of the program, and Fleischer Scholars alumni Josh Elizetxe served as keynote speakers. Paquita Yarborough, Ed.D., program director for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Patricia Roe, vice president of philanthropy at Strada Education Network, were also in attendance.

“I actually believe we will never achieve the American dream until we get those people who are less privileged economically into the mainstream of this country,” said Mort Fleischer, “I believe this environment allows people to succeed and I am an example of that.” 

“This particular program has several facets to it that we feel will have a huge impact on the community and Texas Southern University,” said Yarborough, “We want them (students) to learn more about TSU, learn about business and entrepreneurship, have some exposure to college life, socialize and build their network.” 

Pat Roe of Strada Education Network wants program participants to become familiar with career pathways and with employers so that when they enroll in college, they have actually been to a campus, with the opportunity to experience personnel at the campus, understand the layout and what is expected of them. 

“Most important we want to establish pathways to careers that are also embedded with internship opportunities and exposure to employer partners,” said Roe. “We believe that if you are on a career track you should have experiences with networking, with employers, and with internships that will help you make a smoother transition into your career.” 


Texas Southern University (TSU) honors our designation as a special-purpose institution for urban programming and research. TSU is a comprehensive university providing higher education access to the nation’s underserved communities. TSU’s academic and research programs address critical urban issues, and prepares its diverse student population to become a force for positive change in a global society. TSU offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and concentrations – bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees – organized into 10 colleges and schools on a 150-acre campus nestled in the heart of Houston’s historic Third Ward. The University’s enrollment has a population of more than 9,700 undergraduate and graduate-school academic candidates. Texas Southern has been a distinguished educational pioneer since 1927, and the University has become one of the most diverse and respected institutions in Texas. TSU has positioned itself as a proactive leader in educating underserved students and many who are the first in their family to attend college.