PHARR - As part of their ongoing efforts to promote community engagement opportunities, leaders at PSJA Southwest Early College High School in South Pharr hosted a Community Luncheon for local business owners and partners on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.

According to PSJA Southwest ECHS Principal Ranulfo Marquez, the inaugural event served as a way to inform local business leaders of the many opportunities available for PSJA ISD students and get them excited about their potential partnerships.

“PSJA Southwest services about half of the City of Pharr,” said Marquez. “We’ve had a lot of interest in our programs, and I believe it was time we showcased what we offer. We hope today encourages leaders to partner with us in future endeavors.”

Attendees included business owners from Valley Internal Medicine, Lone Star National Bank, Heroes Dental, Victory Rehab, and Santa Elena Adult Day Care, to name a few. Local elected officials were also in attendance, such as City of Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, 398th State District Court Judge “Keno” Vazquez, PSJA ISD School Board President Ronnie Cantu, and School Board Member and Pharr EDC Executive Director Victor Perez, to name a few.

During the event, current PSJA Southwest ECHS students, alumni, and staff presented about the numerous unique programs available at the school including the Early College Program, Dual Language Enrichment Program and the PSJA Southwest Center for Unified Business and Entrepreneurship.

For Frida Davila, a junior who presented to guests in Mandarin Chinese, getting to share her experience learning a third language with attendees was unforgettable.

“This was my first-time speaking Mandarin Chinese in front of people besides my classmates,” said Davila who is currently pursuing an Associate Degree in Communications. “I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to learn a third language. It’s something I never imagined I would be doing in high school.”

This is the second year PSJA Southwest has offered Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language. The program is possible thanks to a collaboration between the College Board and Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters.

Attendees also got to hear from PSJA Southwest ECHS Class of 2017 alumnus and Stanford University Junior Ramiro Leal.

“I credit a lot of my success in college to the fact that I was able to take college courses in high school,” shared Lea who graduated with an Associate Degree in Mathematics from South Texas College two weeks before earning his high school diploma in May 2017. “I was able to experience math and science at a higher level than most high school students. This definitely has helped me succeed in my classes at Stanford.”

The proud alum thanked his teachers, school, and district for the many opportunities he was provided with as a student.

“I would not be where I am today without PSJA’s Early College Program,” Leal said.