BY BIANCA MUJICA
McALLEN — Almost $3 million in scholarships has been awarded to graduating area high school students entering careers in science, math, engineering and mathematics (STEM), according to a news release from South Texas College.
The Dual Enrollment Academies Program provides college courses and career-related opportunities to high school students, 700 of whom have graduated with their associate degree since the program began in 2005, the press release said. This May, $2.9 million in scholarships was awarded to the program’s 111 graduates. The program has a 100 percent success rate with graduates transferring to a four-year institution.
“This is a testament to the fact that when students are given support, even if the bar is set high, it’s amazing what they can do,” said Nicolas Gonzalez, administrator for High School Programs and Services at STC.
“We have many other students such as these who continue to meet and pass the rigorous requirements of the program, and still manage to graduate with a two-year degree while maintaining a high GPA,” Gonzalez said.
The mission of the program is to encourage area high school students into STEM professions through dual enrollment so they have the motivation to pursue higher education in those fields.
South Texas College had the valedictorians and salutatorians within the program gather for photos and interviews. One of the graduates, La Villa Early College High School valedictorian Prizila Rangel, said she is studying biology at the Texas A&M University in College Station. She plans to attend medical school and become a pediatrician.
“My mom was a day-care teacher when I was young so I have always been around kids one way or another,” Rangel said. “I also have two younger sisters who are six years younger than me, and one of them had very chronic asthma when she was a child so I would always take care of her. I always enjoyed being able to help her get better, and I would like to do that for other children, too.”
The staff and faculty at South Texas College said they hope the funding and preparation students receive from the Dual Enrollment Academies Program will help them succeed in their pursuit of higher education.