22 Pasadena seniors graduate with both diplomas and degrees

05.18.2015 | By

First graduating class of Pasadena Early College High School receives recognition

PASADENA, Texas – Twenty-two Pasadena students are making history as the first graduating class of the Pasadena Early College High School (PECHS), graduating this semester with both their Pasadena High School diplomas and San Jacinto College associate degrees.

Many of the PECHS students, like Alondra Moran of Pasadena, are also the first in their families to graduate with college degrees.

"It's an amazing feeling and accomplishment," said Moran, 17, class valedictorian who will attend the University of Houston in the Fall on a $20,000 scholarship to study mechanical engineering. "We're reaping the rewards for all of the hard work and sacrifices we've made to be here."

Moran applied to the University of Houston, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. She was accepted to all three universities and received $20,000 scholarships to both University of Houston and Texas A&M University. Her fellow graduates are experiencing similar success. Deisy Martinez is joining the U.S. Marine Corp. Jaime Rodriguez plans to study mechanical engineering at Prairie View A&M University, and Evelyn Montoya plans to study accounting at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Working for both an associate degree and high school diploma at the same time requires a great deal of sacrifice. A student who decides to enter an early college high school is signing up for a rigorous curriculum. These sacrifices have included scaling back on extra-curricular activities to allow for more study time on college-level curriculum, as well as spending weekends studying for a physics or British literature exam rather than with friends.

"I feel blessed," said Rodriguez. "Being the first class to graduate from Pasadena Early College High School is pretty exciting. We're making history, paving the way for future generations to come."

The Pasadena Early College High School opened in the Fall of 2011 with 54 freshmen. That number has grown to 190 students this year, with many far surpassing the state average on the STAAR exam. PECHS students may earn up to 62 college credit hours and an associate degree while still in high school. They may select from a variety of degree plans that lead to a myriad of baccalaureate and post-graduate degree opportunities and careers. Adding college-level work as early as the ninth grade supports development of high-level critical thinking, time management, and cooperative learning skills.

"Every person deserves an opportunity to pursue a college education," said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College chancellor. "San Jacinto College is honored to partner with the Pasadena Independent School District to bring the Pasadena Early College High School to the community. It brings to reality the dream of a college degree to so many families within the district. I am so proud of these students and their accomplishments thus far. We look forward to following the accomplishments of the first PECHS graduating class as they transfer to universities and enter the workforce."

The early college high school opportunity is provided to PECHS students free of charge, with tuition, books, and transportation provided by Pasadena ISD. San Jacinto College waives 70 percent of the tuition cost and fees and provides an educational planner housed at Pasadena High School.

"I am so proud of the hard work and dedication demonstrated by the students from Pasadena Early College High School," said Dr. Kirk Lewis, PISD Superintendent of Schools. “This dual graduation is just the beginning of a lifetime of successes for these students. They have set a great example for tomorrow’s students as we continue their tradition of excellence in the future.”

About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.