Thirty Hidalgo County high school students have engineered a very bright future for themselves by earning associate degrees in engineering from South Texas College just weeks before receiving their high school diplomas.

Through STC’s Dual Enrollment Engineering Academy the graduates sacrificed time away from family and friends to not only earn associate degrees, but as a group, to reap more than $1,300,000 in scholarship offers to attend universities across the nation. Additionally, three students were rewarded for their academic excellence with Gates Millennium Scholar Scholarships worth $250,000 a piece to fund their educations through their doctorates.

“At first I was having doubts about a college education and now that I have been awarded the Gates scholarship, I am not afraid,” said Alyssa Dorado, 2009 DEEA graduate and student at PSJA Memorial High School. “I know that this scholarship will add to my financial stability and relieves the stress of leaving home to attend Texas A&M. And DEEA sculpted me into the well prepared student I am now, which in return helped me in obtaining the scholarship.”

Students from across Hidalgo County participated in the academy including, Grisel Cavazos Crystal Gonzalez, Aaron Jackson, Julio Navarro and Ivy Rodriguez of Donna High School; Zelma Castillo, Kain Diaz, Samantha Solis, and Gabriela Torres of Edcouch High School; Rogelio Cazares and Ramon Guerra of Edinburg High School; Javier Betancourt of Edinburg North High School; Juan Mireles of Jimmy Carter High School; Adam Elizondo of McAllen High School; Fernando Aguilar and Miguel Rios of McAllen Memorial High School; Carolina Cadengo and Karoline Rodriguez of Mercedes High School; Corina Fuentes of Mission Veterans High School; Abraham Romero and Jose Zamora of Nikki Rowe High School; Alberto Aratia, Alyssa Dorado, Alejandra Muniz and Edgar Solis of PSJA Memorial High School; Ana Del Angel, Brisa Pinon and Sheyla Sanchez of PSJA North High School; Jessica Jimenez of South Texas ISD Science Academy; and Geronimo Perez of Weslaco East High School

“DEEA was very challenging because it required lots of work, dedication and patience for two years,” said Abraham Romero, 2009 DEEA graduate and student at Nikki Rowe High School in McAllen. “At the end it all paid off, because it prepared me for the challenges that come with a college education.”

Most of the graduates will go on to their junior years in higher education at major universities including Baylor University, Full Sail University, St. Edward’s University, St. Mary’s University, Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin, and The University of Texas-Pan American.

“We are very proud of our students who have given so much time and energy to the academy and they are very deserving of all the accolades they are now receiving,” said Lupe Chavez, coordinator of the academies for South Texas College. “We have the pleasure of working with some of the brightest students in Hidalgo County, and it is very gratifying to see them venture into the next phase in their academic careers. Already we have three of our DEEA alums going into their senior years at Stanford. This year’s graduates can count themselves in very good company. We know they will make us proud.”

For more information about South Texas College’s DEEA call 956-872-2619.