The American Association of University Women’s Mother Daughter Program raises the expectations of young women who would be the first in their family to attend college.  This innovative program helps sixth-grade girls and their mothers create their own hopes for a bright and secure future.

The Mother-Daughter Program was developed by the Lubbock Betty Anderson Branch of The American Association of University Women (AAUW) in collaboration with Texas Tech University (TTU) and the Lubbock Independent School District (LISD).  Two of the local members, Joy Vann and Lane Powell patterned our program after a successful twenty-year program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Its purpose is to empower young women to achieve academically and to pursue a college education.

In the fall 2006, a two-year pilot program was initiated at O.L. Slaton Junior High with hopes of offering the program to other campuses in the future.  In the fall of 2008, AAUW, TTU, and LISD expanded the program to two additional middle school campuses, Atkins and Smylie Wilson, with Talkington School for young women replacing Smylie Wilson in 2015.  We hope  to add one additional school for the 2016-17 school year.

AAUW Mother-Daughter Committee continued by request of both TTU and LISD to be the overall facilitator and coordinator of all aspects of the program, including coordination of the TTU College Program dates and activities. In 2009, Denise Mattson, Executive Director of LISD Support Systems, became the overseer of the LISD Program component, currently coordinated by Johnna Weatherbee.

The Approach

The approach is very different from other education, retention, and leadership programs in three important ways:

  • Sixth-grade girls, rather than high school girls, are the focus of the program. The program is open to girls from all ethnic backgrounds and to girls who would be the first in their family to go to college.
  • Mothers are considered an integral part of the program and must participate with their daughters.
  • The girls and their mothers learn about their many life options by interacting with successful first-generation university students and career women from every walk of life who participates in the program as role models.

How Mother-Daughter works–Goals and Activities

Setting goals is essential to success.  The Mother-Daughter Program works hard to impart the habit of goal-setting to its participants.

The Mother-Daughter Program organizes activities for the girls and their mothers around four broad goals.

  1. Encourage completion of high school educations and raise expectations for attending college.
  2. Enhance preparation for higher education by providing academic and life skills training.
  3. Increase parental commitment to higher education by involving the mothers as well as the daughters in the education decision-making process
  4. Increase awareness of the possibilities and needs of the broader world by working at a local Food Bank, and assisting with school service projects.

These core goals are the context for all of the activities that we engage in during the course of our program.


TTU CAMPUS VISITS – For most of the mothers and daughters, the TTU Saturday programs are their first visit to a university campus.  They meet and interact with successful female students and professors, and are introduced to campus life with presentations and actual hands-on participation in classrooms and laboratories.

Texas Tech University sponsors between five and six key on-campus Saturday programs during the first two years of the Mother-Daughter Program:

  • The College of Human Sciences
  • The Rawls College of Business, coordinated by the Women in Business group
  • Edward A. Whitacre, Jr. College of Engineering, coordinated by Society of Women Engineers
  • College of Arts and Sciences, Departments of Geosciences and Chemistry: the lead presenters from these departments are also AAUW members, Melanie Barnes and Carol Korzeniewski.
  • TTU Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and School of Nursing were added in 2014.
  • Departments of Dance and Music provide exposure to fine arts
  • An optional fun activity is attending a Lady Raiders basketball game with tickets provided by the Women’s Athletic Department.

These Saturday sessions at TTU include activities such as a tour of the campus, lunch in the student union and a dorm cafeteria, plus a dorm tour.  Educators present seminars on college financial planning, scholarships, financial aid, work programs, goal setting, avoiding risky behavior, college majors, and college prerequisites.

Each college has a fun activity using elements of science and math to encourage the girls to consider a career in these fields as fewer girls than boys pursue a career related to math and science.

Finally, the participants hear stories from college students, graduates and outstanding professional women about obstacles they faced in attending college and the benefits of education in their lives.  These women become role models for the participants by sharing stories of their own lives and the obstacles they have overcome to achieve success.

The result of the extraordinary efforts of these volunteers is that for the first time, many of the girls and their mothers begin to think and talk about the possibility of attending college.

LISD MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITIES – The girls meet several times per week with their sponsors on at the middle school campuses.  Middle school campus activities focus on four important areas of development:  academic, personal, career, and community involvement.

One community service activity in which all three middle schools and their mothers participate is a work day at the Food Bank.

Examples of other activities on the three middle school campuses include:  taking an interest assessment, researching colleges and career options, studying in groups, participating in budgeting exercises, participating in school food drives, keeping a journal to assess their school progress, visiting a retirement center, celebrating individual successes and important events, writing thank you notes, and mentoring younger students.

The support of the principals at each middle school has also proved invaluable, as they work to help the sponsors coordinate the times to meet with the program participants and attend orientation and banquet events. Cindy Wallace, the principal at Smylie Wilson has even served as the keynote speaker for the banquet.

LISD also provides transportation (busses) to all of the Saturday activities and Lady Raider basketball game, as well as providing a stipend for each of the sponsors and support with printed materials and the recognition banquet.

AAUW Activities:

The role of the AAUW volunteers as mentioned above is quite simply to coordinate all aspects of the program.  To this end, AAUW maintains open lines of communication among all of the partners, and assists in planning and providing additional support for every activity.  These include such practical applications as:

  • Tracking attendance at all events
  • Arranging for donations of food for each Saturday at TTU, t-shirts for participants, basketball game tickets, and other awards and acknowledgements.
  • AAUW members attendance and participation in each activity
  • In the past two years, the commitment of the local AAUW (Betty Anderson Branch) has expanded to include a Mother-Daughter Scholarship Fundraising Event, and will award its first scholarship in 2012.
  • Planning and coordinating the end of the year graduation banquet or Recognition Ceremony

The results…through 2015:

The pilot program at O. L. Slaton Middle School (OLS) graduated 14 Mother-Daughter pairs (2006-2007) and 9 (2007-2008).  With the addition of Atkins and Smylie Wilson (SW), the program graduated a total of 182 mothers and daughters.

The majority of these girls have continued to pursue the academic and lifetime goals they developed as a result of their participation in this program.  An additional benefit of the program has been that not only have the girls begun to dream of a brighter future, but so have their mothers.  Some have asked for assistance in obtaining a GED, while others have stated emphatically as one mother of twins who are graduating this year:  “I promised my girls that when they went to college, I would go too.”

One particular mother did not wait until her daughter was ready to attend college:  in the fall of 2012, Melody Zuniga, a mother from the class of 2011-2012, enrolled at TTU.  She credits her decision to seek a college degree to the AAUW Mother-Daughter Program, to the GeoSciences College Day which sparked her interest in science, and to Joy Vann, AAUW M-D Director, who took her to talk with TTU admissions, loans, and scholarship personnel.  Melody will be entering her senior year at TTU in the fall  of 2016, and for the 2015-2016 school year has also served as an active member of the Mother-Daughter committee.


The program will link graduates of the sixth grade programs to other programs available to assist the girls as they move through middle school and high school, such as AVID and LEARN programs.

The IDEAL Program at TTU works with AAUW in securing scholarships for the sixth grade program graduates to attend “Science:  It’s a Girl Thing” summer camp after graduation.  Typically, approximately 15 students attend this program each summer.

An AAUW Lifetime Member, Alice White established a scholarship endowment through the Lubbock Area Foundation, whereby a Mother-Daughter high school graduate is awarded a $1,000 scholarship.  The first award recipient in 2015 was Marlena Esparza.  Following her first semester at South Plains, she sent us the following correspondence:


My first semester went very well. I made 3 As and 2 Bs. I am very excited to start my second semester and submit my application in March for nursing school in the fall at SPC. I just wanted to update you and the Mother – Daughter Program on my progress thus far in college.
I attached my new schedule and my grades from last semester.

Thank you for your giving me the scholarship last semester, I am extremely grateful for the privilege.

We will continue awarding annual scholarships to worthy applicants.

A Bright Future

This program will create a brighter future for the Lubbock community by helping many of its intelligent, young women realize their academic and career potential.  Questionnaires completed by the Lubbock M-D participants during the two-year pilot program show the girls and mothers feel optimistic about attending college and believe that they can achieve their dreams.

2015-2016 AAUW Mother-Daughter Program Committee

Russell, Shelby: Mother-Daughter Program Co-Director

Carroll, Sebrina: Mother-Daughter Program Co-Director

Barrington, Lucy: Mother-Daughter Secretary

Vann, L. Joy: AAUW Mother-Daughter Treasurer

Gill, Sabrina: LISD O. L. Slaton Middle School Coordinator

Sanchez, Cassie: LISD O. L. Slaton Middle School Coordinator

Montalvo, Anna: LISD Atkins Middle School Coordinator

Washington, Mikka: LISD Atkins Middle School Coordinator

Williamson, Kami: LISD Talkington School for Young Women School Coordinator

Weatherbee, Johnna: LISD Family / Community Involvement Specialists,  LISD M-D Coordinator

Montemayor, Adelaida: AAUW Member

Zuniga, Melody: Former MD participant, TTU Student, Volunteer

Lambert, Robbie: Community member, Volunteer

Russell, Sugar: Community member, Volunteer


  • Join the coordinating committee to help plan all of our activities
  • Participate by helping provide for brunches for our college events- either through preparation or monetary donations
  • General contributions of funds to support our activities through the year:
    • Donation of a computer laptop for the top student each year, presented at the graduation banquet
    • Donation of a Kindle Fire presented to the top runner-up at each school
    • Donations of hard copies of Oh the Places You Will Go, books by Dr. Seuss presented to each program graduate.
    • Donations toward photo developing, for each student to create a scrapbook of memories to memorialize her participation in the program.
  • Contribute to Alice White scholarship funds through the Lubbock Area Foundation.
  • Provide opportunities for committee members to come and share our program with other community groups
  • Assist in developing marketing pieces and website

If you are interested in pursuing any of these opportunities, contact Shelby Russell or Sebrina Carroll, Mother-Daughter Co-Directors.