Alumni share thoughts on high school to college transition to create new opportunities


Alumni from the Class of 2016 reunited with district administrators and School Board members on January 5 for the annual Recent Graduate Luncheon.

“Today’s luncheon was amazing. Our former students gave us some great feedback about their transition from high school to post-secondary education,” Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos said. “Their thoughts focused on the importance of reading, writing, and time management. We will consider their responses and look for ways in which we can integrate their suggestions into what we are doing as we transform our district.”

Graduates representing each of the comprehensive high schools had the opportunity to share their opinions during a one-hour, informal discussion before lunch.

Sasha Vargas, a current student at The University of North Texas at Denton, expressed gratefulness for the head start she received by attending Early College High School.

“Because I graduated from ECHS, I was already accustomed to the college environment, so I feel that was a huge advantage,” Vargas said.  “On the first day, I knew to greet my professors and talk about the class. I think HCISD drastically impacted my experience by giving me that opportunity.”

From high-school calculus to college roommates, HCISD alumni reminisced about their high-school years and told their college experience stories while answering questions led by Board Members Gerry Fleuriet, George McShan, and Greg Powers.

Esteban Vela, a Harlingen High School graduate who is currently attending The University of Texas at Austin, expressed his passion for the district and hope for positive growth for the Rio Grande Valley.

“In these past five years, I have seen an immense amount of growth within HCISD, and I know that for it to grow further, some things need to change,” Vela said.  “The reason that the Rio Grande Valley doesn’t grow is that a lot of the people that leave don’t want to come back. I think the only way to change that is to encourage them to return to make a positive impact in their community.”

Before heading back for their second semester at some of the most prestigious universities in the state, students left some words of advice for future graduates.

Ryan Benavides, a Harlingen High School South graduate currently attending The University of Texas at Austin suggested more self-initiative, humility, and grace for success after high school.

“It’s okay not to be the smartest kid in the class,” Benavides said. “Most of the kids who go to larger universities were at the top of their class in high school, but competition is very different. If you go to class thinking that you are already the best, you cannot learn anything from anybody else which shuts off a lot of resources that you could use to better yourself.”


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