Donna High School Senior Eric Garcia has big dreams for his future. He wants to go to medical school and become a neurosurgeon.
To get on the right track, Garcia began taking college courses last year at South Texas College (STC) in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). While enrolled in STC’s Dual Enrollment Academy, Garcia noticed only three Donna ISD students were in the program. He was concerned and knew he had to do something to increase DISD representation.
“I realized that not a lot of students are from Donna, but I also realized that a lot of our students are probably not aware that the Dual Enrollment Academy exists,” Garcia said. “We need to educate them about what’s out there and we need to start at the freshmen level.”
So, to do his part, Garcia joined the DHS Ambassador Program. He serves as president this year and works with 32 other members. They are juniors and seniors whose primary role is to help freshmen transition from middle school to high school and educate them on the resources made available to them. Garcia saw this initiative as a perfect opportunity to explain the Dual Enrollment Academy and the benefits it offers.
“I want to share my expertise in what I have learned through my high school experience, but I also want to make sure that these students know that there are other options out there for them, greater options that can save their families money and put them ahead in their college and educational career,” Garcia said. “I want to target freshmen so when they’re sophomores they can apply to the Dual Enrollment Academy and give us more Donna representation.”
As part of the program, the ambassadors go over PowerPoint presentations in freshmen classes that explain the roles of the campus departments and what opportunities and programs are available to them. “We tell them about all the campus resources that we have here from the Registrar’s Office, to the new STEM program to the Attendance Office, everything from A to Z,” Garcia said. “It’s important that they know their campus, what information they can get, how to get that information and from whom to get it from.”
Garcia said many of the students he shares information with are interested in engineering, an area he is not familiar with since he is pursuing a biology major in college. Nevertheless, he still helps them as much as he can.
“I wish I could offer them more insight, but at the end of the day I still feel satisfied,” Garcia said. “They know what option is out there even though I don’t know everything about that option. As for their knowledge of campus resources, they don’t know much and aren’t familiar with a transcript and things like that. So, even though they know some things, there are always other things they don’t know and can learn.”
DHS administrators are proud of what the program has become. They believe it has positively impacted many students over the years by helping them be better prepared for life beyond high school.