The 2016 inaugural graduating class of Thelma Salinas STEM ECHS has much to be excited about this May. Eighty-one out of the ninety-one seniors are participating in graduating ceremonies at South Texas College a full three weeks before graduating from high school. Students graduating under an interdisciplinary degree plan graduate on Friday, May 13th and students graduating from the math and science departments graduate on Saturday, May 14th. This group of seniors has set the academic bar high for all ECHS students with their 89% associate’s degree completion rate including the fields of study of Interdisciplinary Studies (with STEM field electives), Biology, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Engineering.

“All those sleepless nights were definitely worth it”, laughs Biology major Kimberly Urbano as she reflects on studying for major exams in Organic Chemistry and Anatomy/Physiology. Kimberly will begin the Bachelors of Nursing program at UTRGV this fall.

Engineering major, Jaime Flores, recalls spending every afternoon of his senior year from 1:00 to 5:00 at South Texas College. He adds, “It was extremely hard, but it was all worth it. What seemed impossible at the beginning of our freshman year is now real. I just had to set my mind on it.” Jaime will be attending Texas A&M-College Station specializing in Electrical Engineering.

Francisco Ybarra, computer science student, understands the benefits of higher education. “Graduating with an AS in computer science is a first for my family and for the community around me. The privilege I’ve been given to prove my passion for technology, and my future career is a once in a lifetime opportunity.” He adds, “I will always remember the kick-start I got here at Thelma Salinas and I hope others will do the same.” Frankie will continue his studies in computer science at Texas A&M-College Station this fall.

“We are very proud of the accomplishments of all of our students here at Thelma Salinas STEM”, stated Principal Ms. DaLee Garcia, “ our faculty and staff understand the importance of providing timely, targeted, and personalized academic and emotional support to ensure our students’ success. Ms. Garcia praised the La Joya ISD School Board of Trustees, Superintendent Dr. Alda T. Benavides, and the district instructional leadership team for their unwavering support of the early college high school model. In addition, the strong partnership with South Texas College provides STEM ECHS students with the benefits of free tuition, Jagnet Express transportation as well as other student services.