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Mission Early College High School students honored for earning EPCC associate’s degree

Students participating in stoling ceremony  

Mission Early College High School celebrated a stoling ceremony on May 7 at the El Paso Community College Administrative Service Center for more than 35 juniors and seniors who earned their associate degree from El Paso Community College this spring semester.

Parents proudly beamed and family members cheered as the students were presented with their teal stoles by MECHS principal Ben Ortega.

“The parents are always really excited to see their sons or daughters achieve this. For some of them, their children are the first ones going to college. This is another example of endless opportunities that our district offers to our students,” Ortega said. “We set the bar for what these kids can accomplish and for allowing families take part in that accomplishment and see years of hard work pay off with a college degree it’s all very special to them.”

The prestige of the ceremony is not lost on the students, either, who acknowledged earning their associate degree before graduating high school is the result of their hard work, dedication, and commitment at the early college high school.

“Attending Mission was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I have learned so much academically and personally and that’s all thanks to the faculty and staff,” said Alexa Ochoa in her speech at the ceremony. “Consistently seeing all of the MECHS alumni thriving and successful, makes me happy. I’m so excited to see what life after MECHS holds for me.”

Many MECHS graduates agree that their success is a result of tremendous support from their families and the faculty and staff at the school. Graduate Mia Chan also had an opportunity to speak at the ceremony.

“Once we were off campus, we learned the responsibility of handling both college classes and high school classes. I can go on and on about how challenging this journey has been, but the reality is without the support of our family, friends and teachers, we wouldn’t be here,” Chan said during her speech. “I want to give a special thank you to my family and teachers.”

With the head start in college, many of the students have plans to continue their studies at prestigious universities and colleges across Texas and the nation. They said their experience at MECHS has prepared them for the next step.

“My plan right now is to apply to Texas Tech. I was hoping to transfer over there because I want to study aeronautical engineering,” said graduate Melissa Reyes. “When I go over there, I won’t be scared, I already know what’s going on. I have many peers who are also going over there, so we won’t be totally alone. It’s just very exciting right now.”

The MECHS graduating seniors celebrated their EPCC graduation on May 17 and their high school graduation on May 31, both in the Don Haskins Center at UTEP.

“After the last four years of hard work, I finally made it. It’s a great accomplishment. I can breathe with relief knowing the hard work paid off,” said MECHS graduate Pablo Baca. “I have mixed emotions – excitement, nervousness. It’s hard to believe the day is already here.”

Mission Early College High School was the first early college high school program to open in the region in 2006 and among the first to be established in the state. MECHS is one of four current early college high school programs in SISD. Three more will open in SISD for the 2019-2020 school year, making the district the first in the region to offer an early college program at all of its comprehensive high schools.

Published June 5, 2019

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