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Record Number of ECHS Students Graduate from TSTC First

Saturday, May 24, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

ECHSClass Valedictorian Paloma Flores will be addressing her senior class from Early College High School in Harlingen during their commencement ceremony on May 31 at the Performing Arts Center as the class valedictorian.

It'll be Flores' second commencement ceremony this month as the 18 year old already graduated with an Associate of Science in Biology and a Certificate of Completion of Academic Core from Texas State Technical College on May 2.

Flores, who also received Board of Regents (BOR) Scholar recognition for graduating from TSTC with a 4.0 GPA, is one of 32 ECHS seniors that graduated from TSTC with a certificate of completion or an associate degree nearly one month prior to receiving their high school diploma.

ECHS is about to graduate it's fourth senior class and the number of dual enrollment students that have also graduated from TSTC has increased each year.

In 2011, 18 ECHS students graduated from TSTC. In 2012 it was 24 and last year 29 ECHS seniors walked the stage as TSTC graduates.

ECHS principal Angel Paxton said currently 55 of 62 juniors are on track to graduate from TSTC next year too. That would be an all-time high of 92 percent of the graduating class.

For Fuentes, the head start to her college career was only part of what made her time at ECHS worth it. Fuentes plans on attending UTPA for three years to complete her bachelors in biology then attend medical school somewhere in Texas.

"A lot of schools will tell you they get you college-ready but ECHS made us college prepared," Flores said. "We had the full college experience here at TSTC dealing with academic advisors and college professors and scheduling our classes. We had to make appointments to meet with professors and manage our time wisely. We had to figure out what worked best for us."

Paxton said not all 32 seniors will go on to a four-year university. Paxton said five will join the military, four will enroll in some sort of technical program and two more will go into management training.

"Our kids have experienced college already," said Paxton, who oversees a campus of 308 total students. That enrollment figure will go up next year to 331.

"No matter what they decide to do after high school, our kids are well prepared to take on the challenge of the military, a university or the workforce."

Class Salutatorian Stormie Garza was also a BOR Scholar and graduated with a Certificate of Completion of Academic Core.

She's moving to Denton where she'll attend the University of North Texas and major in Bio-Medical Engineering.

Entering her freshman year at ECHS, Garza was still unsure what she wanted to study. Then she enrolled in Calculus I and II and her love for mathematics was born.

"I didn't know what I wanted," Garza said. "TSTC helped me discover my passion for math and engineering."

For more information on the Dual Enrollment program at TSTC, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingende.

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