(Seguin) – Seguin High School's Early College Campus is doing more than just shaping the lives of its current students. It has also reportedly created new dreams and inspiration for their families.
Today (Friday) is the final installment in our week long series on Seguin High School's "College for All" concept. The early college program has opened up new opportunities for all high school students in Seguin ISD. Students, like junior Kayla Sanchez are reaping the benefits of the program, which started in 2014. Sanchez is part of the class of 2018, which was the first class to be able to earn college credit starting as a freshman.
Sanchez, who is on target to graduate next year with an associate degree, says the ability to earn college credits while in high school has meant a new direction for her entire family.
"Me and my mom, we've started college together. When I came to high school, we started together. She's going to graduate in May. So I'm really excited for that. She has been my motivation, inspiration to keep going. She has been wanting to go to college for the longest. She had been a CNA for about 20 years plus. She was like 'I'm just going to wait until my kids grow up, because I want to support them first before myself.' I appreciated her for that very much. Whenever they came up with the early college high school, she was like 'Kayla, you should do this. I didn't have the chance to go to college. I came to support y'all and I worked for the longest time and I feel you should go beyond my expectations and go higher than you ever been because you deserve it.' She went to college with me. She said, 'I'm going to help you with me, we're both going to go to college.' That was inspiration," said Sanchez.
Her mother Rosemary Sanchez will be graduating as an LVN from Victoria College in Gonzales. Sanchez says thanks to SHS, she will be the first but not the last in her family to obtain a college degree.
"I wanted to set a good example for my daughters. Being I am the first generation college student, I wanted for them to have a better life and to just follow my steps. So they know that any opportunity is available for them. Now that I attend college, when it's their turn to go to college, I can help them along the way too and my youngest one too. So I just wanted better for us, as a family, as a whole," said Rosemary.
Rosemary says the experience has been incredible for her and Kayla. She is also hoping to set an example for her other daughter, Kylee, a fifth grader at Rodriguez Elementary School.
"I felt it was a good opportunity to help her excel in what she wants to be in life. I support her 100 percent, both my daughters. I support them both 100 percent and I'll do whatever it takes to help them get there. That's part of the reason I wanted -- even though it was late -- I wanted to continue my college to help them -- that way I can help them along the way," said Rosemary.
The program, over the last three years, has saved Seguin families hundreds of thousands of dollars in college classes. The program is in partnership with St. Phillip's College, one of the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio.
Sanchez says with these opportunities being given to her daughter, it was a no-brainer of what she had to do for herself.
"To the parents out there, I know these kids, they need a lot of direction. I think it is an awesome program. I think it is a help to you along the way as far as financial needs. Being a single parent, that has helped me a lot. She's going to graduate with an associates degree and I recommend it, 100 percent recommend it," said Rosemary.
Sanchez says like most students and parents, she questioned the program. However, with everyday support and learning tools like AVID, she is on the path to success.
"I think this program is a great opportunity to take a part in. When I first saw it in eighth grade, I was mind boggled by how it's free and how we were going to get college hours. I was a little bit hesitant to be honest at first. Is it going to be full on college? Am I not going to have any support, anything like that? But over the years, it has grown a lot. How AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination, an organizational and tutoring program) is, that's kind of the back bone of our graduation year. We have to organize a binder from organization to tabs. In our high school, our tabs are the steps that we take in high school. So I feel like this program has definitely helped us a lot," said Sanchez.
Sanchez, who hopes to follow her mom in the medical field by becoming a pediatric dentist, says going through the program has helped her to better understand her options of either going to college or obtaining those tools that can help make life easier.
"It has changed a lot. Like how you were all saying that we should invest it into the elementary. Recently, my sister who is going to be going into the sixth grade -- she had her schedules -- she was looking at them and I said 'Kylee, do you know what you want to be? Do you know what you want to do?' She said yes, 'I want to be in choir. I want to be like you. I want to go to all of the high level classes.'I said 'good, you should start off in the Pre-AP classes, because I know you can do it. I know you can go all the way up there, because even though I set an expectation, I want you to go over it.' I feel that we should help students around the community. Hey, look college is a good thing. People get scared from college because, me, I know that college is going to be a little hassle because that's a lot. Twelve years of schooling, that's not going to be affordable, but we shouldn't have to worry about price, because if you put your mind to it, you can get the grades you want. You can get the scholarships you want and you can get any grants or anything like that. I feel like the community should know that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. If there's a will, there's a way," said Sanchez.
The stand alone comprehensive "College For All" campus was launched in 2014 offering four curriculum pathways -- each leading to post secondary credentials. In 2018, Seguin High School is expected to witness approximately 50 students as they earn both their high school diploma and associates degree. All remaining students will be finishing off their high school years with various amounts of college credit and or certifications.