Local philanthropist Harvey Najim has contributed $3 million to establish a career advancement center at the University of Texas at San Antonio to help students find jobs when they graduate.

The Harvey E. Najim Innovation and Career Advancement Center at UTSA will manage the university’s Classroom to Career initiative, which has a goal to increase the number of students who can participate in experiential learning opportunities to 75 percent of the student population.

Just over one-third of UTSA’s undergraduate students currently participates in experiential learning opportunities, which include internships, research and study abroad programs, service-learning projects, hands-on simulations in the classroom, and capstone projects.

UTSA senior Katherine Rico, who is majoring in premed biology with a concentration in neurobiology and minoring in Spanish, hopes to start a career in pediatric psychology after she earns her master’s degree. But she also wants to be a businesswoman and use the skills she developed through the UTSA Citymester program and during a summer internship with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Rico said she learned a variety of marketable leadership skills in those programs, including critical thinking, team building and teamwork, and communicating in a business environment. She also developed a network of career professionals.

Led by UTSA Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy, the Innovation and Career Advancement Center will offer programming to help more students like Rico develop career pathways and use experiential learning opportunities to prepare them for a future career. 

“We are grateful to Mr. Najim for his support of our Roadrunner students and his vision for how the center, in turn, will support the San Antonio community by increasing connections to area business, nonprofits, and government organizations,” stated Espy. 

“My vision is that every student who participates in the center is better prepared for a career when they graduate from UTSA and gives back to UTSA when they are financially able to,” stated Najim. “I chose to invest in career readiness because I have seen it work at Baylor [University] and St. Mary’s University. I want every student who graduates from UTSA to get a diploma and a job offer.”

The center also supports the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, which focuses on classroom-to-career experiential learning and is a component of UTSA’s re-accreditation process through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.  

“It is a privilege to collaborate with Harvey Najim on this transformational project [and] it speaks to our shared belief in the power of higher education as a force for social mobility,” stated UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. 

Founder of Sirius Computer Solutions and a charitable foundation in his name, Najim served as a Frost Lecturer at UTSA in 2016. 

That same year, he established the Najim Pathways Scholarship at Alamo Colleges with additional gifts to UTSA, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and UT Health San Antonio for transfer students to finish their degree programs. In 2019, Najim joined the UTSA Campaign Leadership Council. 

Due to the pandemic, approximately 95 percent of fall classes at UTSA are being offered online with all instruction moving online after the Thanksgiving break.

Harvey Najim is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of individual members, click here.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...