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South Texas College celebrates dynamic year for dual students

College leverages partnerships with school districts to instill college-going culture

STC Trustees recently presented college flags to Sharyland ISD for display at the district’s three high schools. STC is proud of its partnerships with school districts across the Valley to promote a college-going culture among all students.


Growing up, Chelsey Sandoval recalls her first glimpse into a prospective nursing career while caring for her grandfather. Sandoval said her grandfather had been an amputee since before she was born and often needed constant care from family members.

By the time she was old enough, Sandoval said she did her part to offer aid when he required.

“Just being around him and taking care of him has always been something that’s in me,” Sandoval said. “Because of that, it was natural to begin directing my attention to a nursing career.”

Right from the start, Sandoval said she took advantage of the early college high school program at Edcouch-Elsa ISD. With her family coming from modest means, she said she jumped at the chance to begin college classes while still in high school.

STC aims to provide college courses to students while in high school, making it possible to obtain an associate degree from the college. Sandoval said her determination enabled her to graduate with an associate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and she now plans to attend Texas State University in the fall in order to obtain a degree in nursing.

“I took advantage of the opportunity and ended up following the program,” she said. “I graduated with my associate degree and it has been a wonderful experience meeting all of these new people and new faces. Right now, I am thinking of becoming a nurse for those with developmental disabilities. We’ll just see what happens.”

Sandoval is among the thousands of students who have benefitted through partnerships between STC and school districts across the Valley. The college presents flags to ISDs as a symbol of this partnership, and as a reminder of its mission to provide a college-going culture for all students regardless of background, according to STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed.

“South Texas College is proud of its many partnerships in helping build and promote a college-going culture among students,” Dr. Reed said. “It didn’t just happen. It took a tremendous amount of leadership and support from the school districts.

“This early college high school movement would have never happened if all the school districts didn’t step up and work with the college to make this a reality,” Dr. Reed said.

Like it has done with all of its dual credit partners, STC trustees recently presented three flags to the Board and Superintendent of Sharyland ISD in May for display at the district’s three high schools, Sharyland High, Sharyland Pioneer and A3 Early College High School (ECHS).

Through its partnership with STC, the district’s new early college program has enabled 92 percent of graduates to earn an associate degree before finishing high school, according to Sharyland administrators.

“Our district continues to strengthen our partnership with South Texas College,” said Carolyn Mendiola, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Student Services & Community Relations at Sharyland ISD. “We have built a strong relationship with STC for close to 15 years, and each and every school year our dual credit program continues to increase and prosper.”

Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC), the Dual Credit program at STC partners with 24 school districts and 78 high schools across the Valley. More than 200 college faculty and over 400 dual credit faculty support the program, which received a commendation by SACSOC in November 2016 for integrating high school students into the college’s programs.

By August 2018, STC will have awarded over 1,200 associate degrees and 300 certificates to ECHS graduates alone.

Beginning with the first early college high school in 2006, to date there are now 29 across the Valley with a pipeline of more than 20,000 students and 200 unique dual credit courses. More than 50 percent of ECHS graduating seniors receive an associate degree.

“With our new early college program, this partnership has thrived, leading to 92 percent of our graduates earning an Associate’s Degree,” Mendiola said. “We expect that this partnership with STC will continue to grow and strengthen for the benefit of our students here in Sharyland ISD.”

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