Students sign ‘Commit to Complete’ pledge

HARLINGEN — Mia Garza has committed herself to completing her studies at Frank Philips College.

“I am very excited because I got a scholarship to go play softball,” said Mia, 18, a senior at Harlingen High School.

Mia and more than 600 other seniors gathered in the school cafeteria Friday to sign a “Commit to Complete” pledge. The form declared a commitment to complete either an academic degree at a university, trade course work at a college such as Texas State Technical College, or a stint in the military.

Mia, who played varsity softball for four years, plans to study health and science at Frank Philips College in Borger in the Texas Panhandle. The pledge she and her classmates were signing seemed to cement their plans, make them more real. Her parents, Rey and Gaby Garza, appreciated the event.

“It’s very important,” said Gaby. “They are committing themselves to completing college.”

The air was charged with the excitement of students looking toward their futures. They wore black shirts with a large “H” in red and black stripes and the words “Senior Decision Day.” They munched on pizza slices and contemplated the “Commit to Complete” forms in front of them.

School Board President Nolan Perez spoke to the students.

“If you go to college for a couple of years and don’t finish, you pretty much just wasted your money.”

Success isn’t just about how smart you are, he told the students. It’s about how much work they put into their endeavors. Earning some sort of credential is vital in today’s work place.

“You can’t live without some sort of a degree or some skill set so an employer will want to hire you,” Perez said. “You’ll be dependent on others the rest of your lives, either your parents or the government.”

Superintendent Art Cavazos told the students about his decision to earn his doctorate in 2009.

“When I decided to go back, it was going to be three years,” he said.

There were many times as he labored toward his Ph.D. he asked himself, “Why did I do this?”

“I’d made a commitment to complete my degree in front of my own children,” he told the students. “You made a commitment to complete it.”

Cavazos’s words resonated with Vince Garcia, 17, who plans to study kinesiology. He’ll attend Texas State Technical College for two years and then transfer to Texas State University in San Marcos.

He had a big smile on his face as he regarded the commitment pledge.

“I am going to hang it on my wall,” he said. “Every day when I wake up I am going to look at this.”

The pledge signaled something else. He and his classmates really had made it to graduation, and they really were heading out into their adult lives.

“I feel like I achieved something,” he said. “It’s the next stage of my life.”

Across the table sat Andrew Flores, who was feeling pretty excited about the pledge. The document seemed to confirm the arrival of his future.

“It feels good,” said Flores, 17. “It’s preparing me for the next level. It says we are adults.”

A presentation on a large screen showed the names of different colleges and universities and which students would attend there.

“It’s super fun,” said Kennedy Daniel, this year’s salutatorian.

“It’s really awesome to see where my classmates are going and see the broad horizons they are going to experience,” she said.