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As students prepare to receive their high school diplomas, 59 graduating seniors from Early College High School have already received their associate degrees from Texas State Technical College in Harlingen.

For students such as Gabrielle Ramirez, who will be majoring in nursing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, this means that upon entering college, she will be done with their general education coursework and will be able to pursue her major courses immediately.

“I feel proud of myself because as someone who doesn’t get things as quickly as others or who can attain information as fast as others, being able to not only receive my associates but graduate with Board of Regents honors from TSTC has really shown me what I am capable of,” says Ramirez.

ECHS had 14 students graduate with honors and six with the Board of Regents Scholar distinction – an honor reserved for students graduating with a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

During the April 29 commencement ceremony, 47 seniors graduated with their Academic Core, nine with their Biology Associate of Science, and three graduated from the Certified Nurse Assistant Program. This group represents 77 percent of their class.

The school provides college hours and classes at no cost to students or their families as part of the Dual Enrollment program.

Challenging students with a rigorous yet supportive program, ECHS gives them the opportunity to save time and money, compressing the time it takes to complete a high school diploma and the first two years of college.

Maria Sanchez, a TSTC Board of Regents Scholar, says that attending ECHS has given her a different outlook on her education as well as a preview of the college experience.

“This school has helped me get to where I want to be,” says Sanchez. “It was a lot of work, but I feel that taking TSTC courses has really pushed me to become a dedicated student. It has taught me a lot about time management and prioritizing. I feel like that will help me a lot once I’m in college.”

Sanchez will be attending the University of Texas at Austin in the fall to pursue a degree in Chemistry.

Before ECHS students can walk through the doors of their future universities, they will mark the end of their high school careers at the ECHS commencement ceremony on June 4. Commencement will begin at 12:30 P.M. at the district’s Performing Arts Center.

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