Computer Science, Class of 2019
ECHS Attended: Mercedes Early College Academy
Why did you choose to attend an early college high school (ECHS)?
I thought attending an ECHS would be more of a challenge than a traditional high school. In terms of work I don't think it was much different, but it did create the expectation of going to college. Because my ECHS experience showed me how it felt to be in college, I was motivated to keep going and pursue my degree.
I was thinking in terms of economics, as well. My mom is a single parent, and my family wasn't financially able to support college, so that really encouraged me to go to an ECHS.

Why is a college education important to you?

College gives me the opportunity to leave my environment and put myself in a better position economically. It allows me the chance to have a better lifestyle than what I have seen around me growing up. Leaving your environment and challenging yourself is a great thing, but you can't do it by staying where you are.

What are your long-term education and career goals?
After I finish my bachelor's, I plan to pursue my master's in Computer Science at Texas A&M or UT [Austin]. Then, I hope to find a computer science job somewhere outside of the state.

Why did you choose to attend Texas A&M University (TAMU)?

I was looking for a school that was a good fit for me. TAMU is really calm, and there aren't many cities around. It's friendly, and that's what I think of myself. It was really a perfect fit for me.
I also knew that TAMU is a Tier I institution, and there is nothing in comparison to this university in terms of my major, Computer Science. I knew this program would be different and would challenge me.

What are some challenges you have experienced as a student at TAMU?

Coming here was a big culture shock. During the first semester, I was out of my comfort zone, and I wanted to settle in, but I couldn't because I hadn't made friends yet. And then it was hard to balance the work with my situation emotionally, because the course load here is way harder than it was in high school. It was also challenging to make sure I met all my scholarship requirements. I knew I had to take 30 hours per year and maintain a high GPA to keep my scholarships and stay in college. It was all of those things combined that made my first year difficult.

How did you overcome these challenges?

For sure, it was being a GTF Scholar. My mentor was really nice. When I needed her help, she would talk with me and give me advice. Our program coordinator was always on top of us as well. She would check on us and see how we were doing. When midterm grades came around, she would meet with us and see if she could do anything for us. Being a Scholar is so helpful when you don't really have connections, and you're trying to find yourself with the university.

What are some of your successes as a student at TAMU?

Freshman year is the biggest challenge you can have, so surviving it is a success! I'm also excited to participate in an internship this summer. It will give me work experience in my field, and I'll get to test my computer science skills and learn a new coding language, too.
I also served as a GTF Mentor this year, and I plan to do it again next year. I'm really proud that our freshmen this year did really well. We were matched to our mentees by major, so we were able to give them good advice because we had gone through the same things they were going through.