55 ECHS graduates celebrate achievement

HARLINGEN — Probably Russia.

No, maybe Taiwan.

But then again, there’s always Italy, where Elia Law has already studied abroad. The Early College High School senior was just happy she was graduating with 54 of her classmates with a two-year college degree. She hoped a head start on her college career would enable her to study abroad even sooner.

They’d all gathered yesterday at Yeckel Auditorium on the campus of the Marine Military Academy for the commencement ceremony of Texas State Technical College. The ECHS seniors, dressed in black robes and caps, blended very well with the other TSTC graduates — and they hadn’t even finished high school.

“I’m still 17,” Law said playfully. “I am not even an adult yet and I am graduating. I’d rather be in Italy.”

On a more serious note, she announced plans to attend the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I feel great!” Elia said.

Principal Pamela Flores was feeling pretty great, too. She’s completing her first year as principal, and she couldn’t be more impressed.

“They are very focused to their objective, and I also believe they have a lot of support from the school district and of course partnership with TSTC,” she said.

She’d quickly built a familiar relationship with many of them. It was pretty hard not to.

“Students who have such leadership qualities, you can’t miss them,” Flores said. “You see each of them, you know them well.”

Elia and her classmates had spent their high school years taking college courses from TSTC while still earning their high school diplomas. They all had their own reasons for doing so.

“The majority of us have our academic core,” said Danielle Del Bosque, 17, as she adjusted her cap.

“A few have associate’s degrees in biology,” she said. “I chose the option for an academic core. It transfers a lot better to a lot of state universities.”

She plans to study public relations and biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin.

Ryan Lira, 17, said earning a two-year degree in high school would save money. By attending TSTC while in high school he avoided a lot of tuition and fees, at least for the first two years.

Most of the credits are easily transferrable to the University of Texas at Dallas where he plans to study computer science.

He looked around at all the other TSTC graduates, those from his high school as well as the others.

“I feel more a TSTC student,” he said.

Many of them had few classes their senior year, having hit the ground running so to speak to complete their classes.

“We’ve been rushing on this since our freshman year,” he said.

Many of them referred to the time they’d spent preparing for this day.

“I have been going to TSTC and ECHS for four years,” said Dylan McNutt, 18, who is in the run for valedictorian.

“Graduating is kind of the end of the road,” he said before clarifying that it was the end of one road and the beginning of another.

“I will be attending UT – Dallas to pursue biomedical engineering,” he said.