When it comes to computers, Eli Bazan and Kadejah Zarate of Grulla High School, Mayda Garcia of Rio Grande City High School, and Luis Silva and Erwin Unate of Roma High School, all recent Starr County area high school grads, know more about computers and technology than most students their age. And that?s all due to the fact that they earned their associate?s degrees in computer science in May 2012 from South Texas College weeks before earning their high school diplomas. And it was all made possible through STC?s Dual Enrollment Computer Science Academy (DECSA).
?Through the academy, academically gifted students in Starr County that show an interest and aptitude in computers can apply and be selected for the free program to study computer science, with an emphasis in programming and the new field of medical electronic records,? explained Lupe Chavez, director of high school programs and services for STC. ?We are very proud of these first five graduates who persevered through some very rigorous work. They are well positioned to earn bachelor?s degrees in the field and possibly go on to the master?s and PhD levels.?
The five DECSA graduates are well on their way to future success. Combined, they earned more than $ 200,000 in scholarships with plans to continue their studies at Lindenwood University in Missouri, Texas State University, The University of Texas at San Antonio and The University of Texas-Pan American.
?Being a part of this two year program has helped me tremendously,? said Erwin Unate, STC DECSA and Roma High School grad. ?The academy has advanced my educational plans, all the while making it that much more affordable for my parents to send me to a university to continue my education. My ultimate goal is to graduate with my bachelor?s degree and possibly earn a master?s degree so that I can work as a game and software designer for a company like Ubisoft.?
?DECSA has helped me get ahead in my education, allowing me to earn an associate?s degree ahead of most of my classmates,? explained Luis Silva, another STC DECSA and Roma High School grad. ?DECSA has taught me responsibility, organization, time management and many other attributes that are important in continuing my education at UTPA, where I plan to major in computer information systems.?
Those interested in participating in the academy must be enrolled in high school in Rio Grande City CISD or Roma ISD and submit a program application for review. Upon acceptance to the academy, students will have the opportunity to participate in community service activities, attend special seminars, activities and field trips related to the computer science field, and receive mentorship from technology professionals.
STC DECSA students receive specialized tutoring and advising, academic workshops and scholarship search support. Lastly, students can expect to participate in college site visits and summer internship opportunities.
Upon completion of the two-year round program, each participant will earn an Associate of Science in Computer Science, which is transferable toward earning a bachelor?s degree at colleges across the state and is a step in preparing students for careers in computer software engineering, computer systems analysts, information systems and computer programming.
For additional information about STC?s Dual Enrollment Computer Science Academy available through its Starr County Campus contact Lupe Chavez, director of high school programs and services, at 956-872-3499.