From a personal interest, to a professional certification
Student of the Week: Jacob De La Cruz
“I think it's very cool that STC offers these classes because not a lot of high school students know the opportunities that are available. I could have gone through high school without knowing what was possible. Now, I’m here with numerous certificates, and I had fun through the whole process.”
Jacob De La Cruz, 17, is grateful that South Texas College’s Dual Credit program has helped him transform a hobby into a future career.
De La Cruz, a junior at Economedes High School in Edinburg, is part of the STC Computer Applications Specialist certificate program and on his way to becoming an industry professional.
The STC Computer Applications Specialist program allows students to develop skills in business applications such as word processing, spreadsheet and database management systems, as well as multimedia software.
De La Cruz recently earned his Microsoft Office Specialist Expert certification through the program as a dual credit student. This expert credential shows that he has the highest understanding of the software programs.
“Before this class I didn’t know anything about all these computer programs,” De La Cruz said. “I didn’t know about Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint or what they did. But, I found them pretty cool and could use them for school. Then, I realized I could get a good job with these skills. My teacher also told us about jobs and internships we could find after graduating and I thought that would be great for my future.”
De la Garza said he developed an interest in computers and technology when he was in middle school.
“I started getting into computers when I was 13,” De La Cruz said. “Then, while in quarantine during the pandemic, my dad got me a personal computer. That’s when I self-taught myself 3D animation. So, I figured, if I could do that, I was pretty sure I could learn the programs in school, as well.”
And, De La Cruz hasn’t just learned about computer software programs – he’s excelled at them.
De La Cruz is one of the few students in his class to earn the title of Microsoft Office Specialist Expert. He has certificates in five Office applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. He said he and his friends encouraged and pushed each other to reach the top level.
“Me and my friends were really competitive and tracking each other’s progress,” De La Cruz said. “We were racing to see who would get the expert certification first, and we all got it. Obviously, we're all proud of ourselves because we earned it, but we’re also the only five students out of a group of maybe 50.”
De La Garza is already putting his computer application skills to use by offering to help his fellow students and even high school teachers with formatting files and printing documents.
“I think one of my favorite parts of learning something new is having that knowledge to help others,” he said. “If someone want to know something about their computer, I could tell them. I wouldn't mind becoming a tutor or a teacher in the future.”
De La Cruz said the rewards of the dual credit classes are more than he could have imagined and has enhanced his experience as a high school student.
“I think it's very cool that STC offers these classes because not a lot of high school students know the opportunities that are available,” De La Cruz said. “Now that I’m in the program, I'm glad I made this decision. I could have gone through high school without knowing what was possible. Now, I’m here with numerous certificates, and I had fun through the whole process.”
De La Cruz said he’s still deciding which area of technology to specialize in at college, but knows he can turn to STC to learn about what’s obtainable and leading in the industry.
“I'm already an STC student, so I’m planning to continue and get my associate degree from STC,” De La Cruz said. “Then, I want to earn a bachelor’s degree. My goal is to find a way to continue increasing my knowledge of technology. It’s a vital skill.”
De La Garza is the first member of his family to attend college and said he appreciates his parents’ involvement in his educational goals.
“I’m glad to have very supportive parents and I’m grateful for them,” he said. “My mom was really happy when I started STC classes, and both my older siblings wanted me to attend college. I know these certificates have really helped me get a head start, and I’m excited for that.”
For more information about the Information Technology programs at South Texas College, visit www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/information-technology.