Early Graduates: TSTC commencement ceremony honors ECHS students

BY Amanda Sotelo

Texas State Technical College and the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District’s Early College High School began a partnership nearly eight years ago, offering students the opportunity of a college education while still in high school.

Since its initiation, hundreds of high school students have graduated from the program and this year there’s a record number of graduates.

Dylan McNutt, Early College High School Valedictorian, took advantage of the chance to graduate with a high school diploma and an Academic Core Certificate of Completion at the same time. He was one of 392 students and one of 16 Board of Regents Honor Scholars graduates at TSTC in Harlingen. Board of Regents Honor Scholars graduates have a 4.0 grade-point average in their studies. In other words, straight As.

“Finishing with a diploma and a certificate is definitely beneficial,” said McNutt. “It saves me time and money especially heading to a four-year university. I always saw my college courses as an extension of high school, which helped me focus on finishing.”

McNutt will attend The University of Texas at Dallas in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.

There were approximately 59 Early College High School graduates, 14 of which graduated with honors and six of them as Board of Regents graduates.

Of the high school students who shared the stage with TSTC’s graduates, 47 earned an Academic Core Certificate of Completion, nine received an Associates of Science in Biology and three graduated from the Certified Nursing Assistant program.

“I’m very proud of our students,” said Early College High School Principal Dr. Pamela Flores. “I see the growth we have in graduates continuing. The partnership we have with TSTC is so solid and accommodating to ensure that all of our students have what they need to be successful.”

Students attending Early College High School, also enroll as students at TSTC during their freshman year, no later than their junior year. They have the option to earn an Academic Core Certificate of Completion, an associate degree in education and training, science, biology, math, engineering, physics or study to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. Students are not required to pay for classes or books when pursuing this path.

“This is a true partnership,” said Flores. “TSTC is really doing what’s best for our students.”

TSTC Provost Dr. Stella Garcia said this partnership is a win-win for all, but most importantly for the students.

“These high school students get to experience the rigor of a college education and get a head start on earning college credit, saving them time and money,” said Garcia.

She said she hopes to continue to grow the partnership and she knows they are going in the right direction because of the record number of Early College High School students graduating with this semester’s TSTC class.

“This is our largest Early College High School class of graduates to date,” said Garcia. “These students are our legacy. Their success is our success. We want them to be successful and remember where they got their start in higher education.”

For more information about Early College High School call 956-430-9690.

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC call 956-364-4320. Registration for Summer and Fall 2016 is in progress. Register or apply anytime at tstc.edu.