Finding strength in community
Student of the Week: Karicia Tovar
“I’m involved in a lot of activities, but the professors work with my schedule and understand my commitments. They teach college students, but they're able to help me as a high school student adjust to college life.”
For South Texas College Dual Credit student Karicia Tovar, the educational community has been key to helping her recognize her inner strength and capabilities.
Tovar, a junior at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) Memorial Early College High School, is studying business administration through STC’s Dual Credit program.
“Dual Credit was the best way to help me get ahead, especially in business, because I want to get a bachelor’s degree,” Tovar said. “My parents own their own business, so I want to be able to immediately jump on board and start helping them out.”
The Donna native said she takes the majority of her college classes at her high school campus. STC’s Dual Credit oversees a total of 43 designated high schools and provides high school students the opportunity to earn college-credit hours and/or an associate degree while in high school.
“It’s definitely been a journey, but a good experience,” Tovar said. “I’m involved in a lot of activities, but the professors work with my schedule and understand my commitments. They teach college students, but they're able to help me as a high school student adjust to college life.”
Tovar has been active in fine arts since middle school, usually going straight to dance activities after class. She said she feels lucky to be able to balance her extracurricular activities with her studies, and even thrives in both, being named the top officer of her dance team and cast in the school's musical theater productions.
“I enjoy being a performer,” Tovar said. “I am a dancer, so I like to be on stage. Dance and theater came hand in hand here in high school. And when I have free time, I really try to take advantage and focus on my classwork. Once I'm finished with work in one class, I take my computer and start doing work for another. That’s definitely how I get ahead and keep track of all my classes.”
With her senior year in sight, Tovar said she’s focusing on graduation and being accepted into a university.
“Right now, my main goal is to graduate with my associate degree from STC and also stay on top of my extracurriculars because I know next year is going to be busy,” Tovar said. “In high school, if you don't pass, you don't play, so having extracurricular to balance my academics has really pushed me to become a stronger student. Not only for my professors and my teachers, but also for my directors. And being the oldest daughter, I push my younger siblings to want to be in extracurriculars and be great students.”
Tovar was also recently crowned “Emerald Queen” at the school’s annual scholarship pageant, an event she said was out of her comfort zone but an exciting challenge.
“I'm a performer, but being in a pageant and speaking in front of a crowd was a different experience,” Tovar said. “I'm grateful and it was a boost of confidence because I felt so much support and it really showed me that I'm not alone.”
Tovar said she also found comfort and guidance in the communities she built through her extracurricular activities when she went through a difficult time.
“Last year I lost my grandma, and I developed anxiety,” Tovar said. “It impacted my dance life. I was never nervous to get on stage, but after my grandma passed away the anxiety stopped me from doing things. But I have been able to overcome the anxiety, especially with the support of all my mentors and directors. They've pushed me and helped me to become somebody stronger, somebody I didn't know I could be.”
Tovar said she also knew STC would provide her with a strong foundation because her mom also graduated from the college when she finished high school and started her family.
“STC was a great path for her,” Tovar said. “She was able to balance her family life with her STC life. I remember she even had study groups come over to the house and my big brother would take care of us while she studied in the kitchen. It was an advantage for her having STC close by.”
Connection is important to Tovar, and she said she’s grateful for the educational community she has found at both PSJA Memorial and STC. She encourages other students to consider taking Dual Credit classes.
“It’s a very big opportunity for students who may not be able to afford college,” she said. “Take advantage of these STC classes because they're free, but of course, know that you have to be committed, because, at the end of the day, it's just you. So, keep pushing and become stronger for yourself.”