A Rio Grande Valley native, Kelsey Rivera saw how hard her parents had to work every day to keep her family afloat and it sparked a desire in her to ensure she had more financial security in her future.
“My mother earned a certificate from a trade school and my father only completed high school,” she explained. “They have always provided all the love and support I needed and they always did their best to provide for me and my younger brother, but it was a struggle. Seeing their hard work made me determined at an early age that I was going to go to college and getting a chance at a better life.”
As a sophomore at Sharyland High School, she heard about and applied for admission to South Texas College’s Dual Enrollment Engineering Academy, or DEEA, as students like Rivera call it.
“I heard a lot about engineering as a career path and I knew there were lots of things you could do with a degree in the field so I applied,” Rivera said. “I figured it was the best way for me to get ahead. I was accepted and it was very exciting to get this advantage and the best part was that it was totally free. Given the financial issues my family has encountered, that was a very important factor for me.”
Rivera knew that STC DEEA’s would require hard work, but her determination saw her through.
“The work was challenging and I learned a lot about time management, team work and determination,” she said. “And even though I was juggling high school studies with college work, I was able to stay in band, something I have been part of since sixth grade, and continue my service at church. I did have to give up some things, but the experience was well worth it. I got a great foundation for my future.”
In the spring 2012 semester, as graduation from DEEA and high school approached, she began thinking about her time beyond earning her high school diploma and associate’s degree.
“The STC staff has always encouraged me to dream big and I did,” Rivera said. “I visited a school you may have heard of, Notre Dame, with my church group and I fell in love with it. The people were great and so was the atmosphere. I knew it was where I wanted to be, but I thought it was a far reach. But, with the encouragement of my family, friends and DEEA, I decided to shoot for the stars and apply.”
It’s a good thing she applied because not only was she admitted to Notre Dame, but with a hefty scholarship that will pay most of her expenses.
“I am thrilled to be a future member of the ‘Fighting Irish’,” she said with pride. “And I’m even thinking of trying out for band and excited about all that experience going to a school with some much tradition will offer. I’m making plans to move there this August and begin my studies towards a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. I hope to earn my master’s and eventually a PhD.”
Rivera believes STC’s DEEA was the chance she needed to make her goals reality.
“DEEA helped make my dreams for college come true,” she concluded. “In May I walked STC’s graduation stage and became an STC Jaguar alum. My message to my fellow community members is to continue supporting great programs like DEEA . STC is building pathways to success for thousands of students, and students like me, we are your proud future.”
In addition to DEEA, STC also offer high school students in Hidalgo and Starr counties the chance to enroll in its Dual Enrollment Computer Science Academy and Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy. For more information call 956-872-3499.