When senior Kelia Lopez started her studies at Early College High School, she set out to do what all “legacy students” strive to do – accomplish something that has never been done before by any other student on campus.
“During my sophomore year at ECHS I was very excited to learn of the opportunity to tryout for the Harlingen High School Cardette dance team,” said Lopez. “With the support of my administrators and instructor, I was able to thrive both in school and on the field. While ECHS had three students on the dance team that school year, there had never been an ECHS student hold a dance officer position.”
At the end of her junior year, Lopez decided to audition for a spot as dance team officer in hopes of becoming the first-ever ECHS Cardette officer and the first Cardette to graduate from high school with an Associate Degree. She earned a position as second lieutenant in the dance team.
“That summer was not easy as I attended dance camp during the day, took evening classes at TSTC and volunteered during what little free time I had left,” Lopez said. “I had long school days as a result of the academic rigor and Cardette rehearsals after school, but the experience of having the best of both worlds was extremely worthwhile and rewarding.”
As an ECHS student, she was encouraged to give back to the community; she has accumulated 841 volunteer service hours through numerous organizations, agencies, the Harlingen Parks and Recreation Department and her parish Queen of Peace Catholic Church.
On Friday, May 1 as she walked across the stage to receive her Associate of Science Degree in Biology, she reflected on all of the people that had played an important role and contributed to her success.
“I have a profound appreciation for all of my current and former teachers for their passion for teaching,” said Lopez. “I am grateful to our superintendent and the school board for their support of ECHS. I am thankful to my family for their tremendous encouragement and support. I am truly blessed for the unconditional love that I have received from my parents, but most importantly for teaching me that with hard work, dedication and faith in the Lord; anything is possible.”
Lopez will be attending the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio in the fall. Her passion for dance has influenced her decision to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science with a major in Rehabilitation Science in hopes of using dance as a form of therapy. Thanks to her great head start at ECHS she will have the opportunity to apply to the UIW Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in less than two years.