- Project Director
Dr. Maria Luna-Torres joined Texas A&M AgriLife Extension as Project Director in March 2018. She oversees the implementation of AgriLife’s Rural Student Success demonstration project in rural school districts across 15 geographically remote counties in Texas. To her current position Maria brings over 20 years of experience in higher education. Prior to joining AgriLife Extension, Maria previously served in numerous leadership roles at TG (now Trellis Foundation) as Director of Education Finance Initiatives and Director of Public Policy & Advocacy. In that capacity, she led statewide college access, and education finance initiatives. She also supported the organization’s philanthropic efforts to advance public policies aimed at improving higher education equity for underrepresented student populations.
Dr. Luna-Torres also served as adjunct faculty at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas from 2016 to 2018. She taught first-time in college students about the application of evidence-based learning strategies, and non-cognitive factors that impact learning, and postsecondary success. She earned both a bachelor’s, and master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M University in College Station. Also, she earned a doctorate degree in Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies from the University of Houston.
Dr. Luna-Torres has authored numerous academic, peer-reviewed journal publications on financial factors affecting students’ persistence and postsecondary enrollment outcomes.
- Luna-Torres, M., McKinney, L., Burridge, A.B., Horn, C., Jones, S. (2019). Financial Aid Packaging at Community Colleges: Which Type of Award Packages Increase Student Persistence? Journal of Student Financial Aid,49, (1).
- McKinney, L., Novak, H., Hagedorn, L., & Luna-Torres, M. (2019). Giving up on a course: an analysis of course dropping behaviors among community college students. Research in Higher Education. 60 (2).
- Luna-Torres, M., McKinney, L., Horn, C., & Jones, S. (2018). Understanding loan use and debt burden among low-income and minority students at a large community college system. Journal of Student Financial Aid, 48 (1).
- Luna-Torres, M., Leafgreen, M., & McKinney, L. (2017). Leveraging guided pathways to improve financial aid design and delivery. Journal of Student Financial Aid, 47(2).
- Mukhergee, M., Luna-Torres, M., McKinney, L., Shefman, P.K., Wade, J., & Breed, R. (2017). Redesigning financial aid to better support community college borrowers. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 24 (1).