News Stories for the week


Galveston College’s Building Bridges to Success program– builds bridges… one family and one student – at a time

 “Success” can be defined in many ways.  For Mary Lee Guthier, Director of Galveston College’s Building Bridges to Success program, success has been best defined and exemplified by the Tovar family.  “This wonderful Galveston county family believes in education as the key to success for their children. And believe they do!”  To date, five family members have graduated from Galveston College and two more Tovar children are presently enrolled.  As such, seven children from the Tovar family have been, or are now enrolled in the College’s BBS program – a TRIO Student Support Services program for first generation students that is funded by the Department of Education.

When asked how they learned about the program, Amelia Tovar, 22, who is completing her last year at Galveston College and will graduate this May, said: “My oldest brother and sister could barely speak English when they first learned about this Program.  If it had not been for the Building Bridges to Success program at Galveston College, we would have never known that we had a chance to go to college.”

And go to college they did!  Maria Tovar, the eldest, graduated from Galveston College in 2000 and transferred to Texas A&M/Texarkana.  She is now attending St. Thomas University and has become a nun. Gumaro Tovar graduated from GC in 2002 and transferred to UTMB and has earned a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy.  Alvaro Tovar graduated in 2004 and then transferred to the University of Houston/Clear Lake. He continues taking classes at UH in Computer Science while working fulltime.  Valdomero Tovar graduated from Galveston College in 2003 and then went on to graduate from the University of Houston/Clear Lake in 2006, with a degree in Computer Science.  Francisco Tovar graduated 2004 and is now a fulltime student at Texas A&M/Galveston studying Maritime Engineering.  Once Amelia Tovar graduates this Spring she will transfer to UHCL and study accounting.  And the youngest Tovar in college, Xitlalic, began her freshman year at GC this fall with her career goal to become a bilingual teacher.

“Altogether the Tovars are a very close-knit family of 14.  Mr. Tovar, employed as a chemical plant operator in the maritime industry on Pelican Island and Mrs. Tovar, a housewife, ‘believe in education’”, Guthier continued.  “With the help of Galveston College and the Building Bridges to Success program – that belief did indeed become a reality for this one, fine family.”  For more information about this program, contact Guthier at 409-944-1298 or email to


Erma Phillips, English and Developmental Reading instructor, Galveston College

Galveston College’s Erma Phillips – from 8th grade drop out to college professor

Erma Phillips dropped out of school in the 8th grade and became a teenage mother, yet she was determined to go back to school and become an educated woman.  After learning about the GED, she studied for it and passed it on the first try. This initial accomplishment opened her door to higher education.  Phillips then went on to complete her Associated of Applied Science, Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts degrees.  Presently, Phillips teaches English and Developmental Reading at Galveston College and plans to pursue her goal of a Doctorate degree in English Literature.  Phillips noted, “Although we live in the land of opportunity, sometimes opportunity does not come easy. In my case, after so much time had passed before going back to school, it was easy for me to think ‘opportunity had passed me by.’ But it didn’t, and my message for young people today is this: If you don’t obtain a formal high school education, you have an option with the General Educational Development Diploma (GED.) So, don’t give up. For me personally, taking and passing the GED laid the foundation for my future studies, goals, and accomplishments.”  For more information about the GED program and the courses she teaches at Galveston College, contact Phillips at 409-944-1318.