First BECHS Class to Earn Degrees at Commencement
BROWNSVILE, TEXAS-MAY 14, 2012-Sitting among the graduates at Commencement for The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College on Saturday, May 19 will be 33 high school seniors from the Brownsville Early College High School.
They are the first to graduate from BECHS with their associate of arts degree and a high school diploma.
“When I was in middle school, I was not thinking about college. I thought maybe I would get a medical certificate and then start working,” said Paloma Abigail Rodriguez, who has been the top student since she started BECHS in 2008. “Since I came to BECHS, it really motivated me to stay in school.”
BECHS is a partnership between the Brownsville Independent School District and UTB and TSC. Highly motivated students are accepted earn their associate of arts degree at the same time they are earning a high school diploma. Students undergo a rigorous curriculum to prepare them for higher education.
“When I was in the eighth grade, I was really excited to go high school,” Rodriguez said. “I was going to play soccer, volleyball, be in the choir and then I heard about BECHS. My counselor told me about the program, and it would be good for me and pay for my first two years of college.”
Rodriguez’s final two years of college will also be paid now that she has received the Gates Millennium Scholarship.
Each year, the Gates Millennium Scholars programs selects 1,000 of the top minority students in the United States to received good-through-graduation scholarships which can be used to pusue degrees in any major at an accredited college or university. Rodriguez is one of 17 students in the Rio Grande Valley named a Gates Scholar.
“I had doubts whether I would get it or not, and I even asked my teacher, and she said, ‘If you are thinking negative thoughts then don’t apply,’” Rodriguez said. “Well that changed my mind. I am going to put my best shot at it, and thank God it happened.”
The first in her family to earn a college degree and a high school diploma, Rodriguez will pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology and hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatrician.
“My parents were always happy for me to be at the top of my class,” Rodriguez said. “I am motivation for my little brothers for them to do best in school and my grandfather, since I was a child, he encouraged me to stay in school and do the best I can.”
As the top student in the class, Rodriguez will deliver the valedictorian address at the BECHS graduation ceremony at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 2 at The Arts Center.
To learn more about BECHS, call 956-698-1476.