Dual Enrollment Academies Program at STC completes record-setting year for students
Nearly $3 million in scholarships awarded to high schools students pursuing STEM-related careers
Staff and faculty at South Texas College are ready to help students fulfill their goals by ensuring they have the funding and preparation necessary when they go forth into higher level degrees and programs.
The Dual Enrollment Academies Program at South Texas College has just completed its 12th year with a record-setting $2.9 million awarded in scholarships to the 111 students who graduated from the program in May, including four valedictorians and four salutatorians from high schools across the Valley.The mission of the Dual Enrollment Academies Program is to encourage area high school students into STEM professions by providing college course-work and career-related opportunities that will motivate, educate, and prepare students for higher education in the fields of medicine, engineering, and computer science.
“Our Dual Enrollment Academies Program is a two year rigorous program designed for students who know they want to purse a degree within the STEM fields. Our program provides high school students the necessary academic and professional support to prepare them as they transition to a four year institution,” said Dr. Rebecca De Leon, Director of Academies and High School Projects at South Texas College.
“Our students have big dreams, therefore we are here to support them to get on the right track towards fulfilling those goals,” De Leon said. “We want to ensure they have the funding and preparation necessary upon graduating from our program.”
South Texas College recently gathered the Academies Program valedictorians and salutatorians from across the Valley together for a photo opportunity and interview. Among the students was Jacqueline Guevara, Valedictorian from Valley View High School who will be attending the University of Texas in Austin to study Psychology. Her goal, she says is to address cultural stigmas about mental health.
“At first I didn’t know why I liked psychology so much. It wasn’t until I realized that I wanted to change the stigma that exists here in the Valley,” Guevara said. “It’s that mentality where people say ‘You don’t need help or constant improvement to better your mental health’. Constantly putting it off only makes your condition worse, and you should always put yourself first to better your well-being.”
Dori Gonzales, Valedictorian at Donna High School, will be attending UT-Austin to study Computer Science.
“I have loved technology since I was young, and when it came to computers I was always the one to go to when my family needed help,” Gonzales said. “Getting older, I see now that technology really is what is driving our society. I think it would be great to be a part of that and I believe that if you find something you love, you will never work a day in your life.”
Prizila Rangel, Valedictorian at La Villa Early College High School, is planning on attending Texas A&M-College Station to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with the hopes of entering medical school to one day become a pediatrician.
“My mom was a day-care teacher when I was young so I have always been around kids one way or another. I also have two younger sisters who are six years younger than me, and one of them had very chronic asthma when she was a child so I would always take care of her. I always enjoyed being able to help her get better, and I would like to do that for other children too.”
Since its inception in 2005, the Dual Enrollment Academies Program at STC has had more than 700 students graduate with an Associate Degree weeks before graduating high school, and 12 Academy students have received the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship.
Upon completion of the Academies, 100 percent of students transfer to a prestigious four year institution. Institutions where Academy graduates have transferred to include Rice University, Cornell University, Stanford, Baylor, UT-Austin, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and many others.
“This is a testament to the fact that when students are given support, even if the bar is set high, it’s amazing what they can do,” said Nicolás González, Administrator for High School Programs and Services at STC. “We have many other students such as these, who continue to meet and pass the rigorous requirements of the program, and still manage to graduate with a two-year degree while maintaining a high GPA. We congratulate these students for their exemplary achievements!”