Record number of dual enrollment students graduate from TSC

Brownsville Early College High School (BECHS) senior Ian Lamas is getting ready to put on his cap and gown as a Texas Southmost College graduate.

The 18-year-old will be earning his associate degree in General Studies from TSC even before earning his high school diploma.

He is one of nearly 121 dual enrollment students graduating next week with associate degrees from TSC, the largest TSC dual enrollment graduating class since the college reopened as a comprehensive community college in fall 2013.

“It’s surreal to think that I’ll become a first-generation college graduate before even becoming a high school graduate,” he said. “I’m feeling excited because it wasn’t easy. I feel so accomplished, and I hope I’ve made my family proud.”

Upon enrolling at TSC in the fall to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice, he will need less than the two years it takes to receive his associate degree from the program thanks to his time as a dual enrollment student.

“TSC has given me a great opportunity,” said Lamas. “It feels good knowing I’m ahead of most and I can begin my career much earlier than others. For this, I’m thankful.”

TSC’s Dual Enrollment program serves 20 high schools in 13 local school districts including Brownsville Independent School District, Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District, Point Isabel Independent School District and San Benito Consolidated Independent School District.

TSC Executive Director of High School Programs and Services Jose Arambul said he’s not surprised to see the number of dual enrollment graduates increase because students are beginning to realize how much time and money they can save through dual enrollment.

Lower Rio Grande Valley high school students have enrolled in 137,004 semester credit hours since fall 2017 and have saved $22 million in college tuition and fees through dual credit partnerships between local school districts and TSC.

“Dual enrollment takes a huge financial burden off students and their parents when they earn dual credit,” said Arambul. “They also decrease their time to earn a post-secondary degree by up to two years. This is why our TSC staff and faculty work endlessly with partnering school districts to ensure that our students and community have the opportunity to earn an associate degree while still in high school.”

Arambul added that TSC’s dual enrollment program also increases a student’s confidence in themselves as a college student.

“Many do not believe that college is for them or that they’re able to attend college, but through this program they begin to believe in themselves and realize they have what it takes to be an excellent college student,” he said. “Through strong partnerships, communication and recruitment efforts, TSC and our partnering districts’ goal is to increase awareness regarding the advantages of dual credit and be able to help even more students and families.”

TSC’s Dual Enrollment students will be graduating during the college’s virtual commencement ceremony on May 15, where more than 560 TSC students will be earning a certificate or associate degree.

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