A college degree in her back pocket
Student of the Week: Natalie Danielle Vega
“It's a lot of hard work and some stressful nights but it sure does feel good when you can say you're 18 years old with a college degree in your back pocket.”
Natalie Danielle Vega is only 18 years old but already holds an associate degree due to her dual enrollment with South Texas College. A graduate of Jimmy Carter Early College High School, Vega took advantage of the school’s partnership with STC to get ahead.
“It’s hard as a high schooler taking college classes; people will belittle your college education because you were in high school when you took your college courses,” says Vega, who graduated with an associate degree in interdisciplinary studies a month before graduating high school. “It's a lot of hard work and some stressful nights but it sure does feel good when you can say you're 18 years old with a college degree in your back pocket.”
Jimmy Carter Early College High School is one of the 43 designated high schools that partner with STC to assist students into college transition and earn college credit. This dual enrollment partnership has not only enabled Vega to have a degree earlier than most, but she will also be able to complete her bachelor’s degree sooner than other students her age and pursue a career in physical therapy.
“The dream job would be to work for a sports team as a physical therapist. I fell in love with physical therapy because I was a part of a sports medicine program at Palmview High School. It was an amazing experience that really taught me a lot about healing the body.”
Vega chose STC due to its accessibility to her home and the friendly, family-like atmosphere that a small campus can cultivate. A child of three, Vega’s family inspire her in making big decisions for herself.
“When it came to choosing an early college, I needed a little push to go that route, my parents pushed me to go to JCECHS because they knew how much it would benefit me in the future.”
Vega persisted through the hardships created after her mother passed away from COVID-19. Although this transition has been incredibly challenging for Vega, she received great support from her professors throughout. Vega is determined to make her mother proud.
“I probably wouldn't have achieved what I have if it weren’t for her,” said Vega. “I hope that you're proud of your flower mommy, I miss you and love you.”