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Meet the first EECHS graduate to earn a master’s degree

2014 January 16
by HISD Communications

In this week’s I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Class of 2010 member Victoria Herrera talks about why she chose to attend East Early College High School (EECHS), how her experiences there led her to a master’s degree at the age of 22, and what it was like to share her college graduation day with her mother, who completed a bachelor’s degree right alongside her.

I understand you were a member of EECHS’s first graduating class in 2010 and that you earned an associate’s degree along with your high school diploma. What was your experience like at EECHS? Was it more, less, or just as challenging as you expected it to be? What was your favorite thing about it?

I was challenged to the fullest of my ability at EECHS. The road to success and graduation was filled with obstacles, but EECHS continued to push me to greater and better things academically and personally. My favorite thing was the feeling of being in a college lecture with other college students, but also being the youngest person in the room. The best feeling was passing these courses and being able to achieve success with peers not only my age, but some 20 years older.

What spurred you to choose an early college high school in the first place, and why East in particular? Which high school were you actually zoned to attend?

I was zoned to attend Reagan High School, but I wanted more than the average high school experience. My parents took me to several campuses to tour, and initially, I chose to attend the campus at HCC Southwest near Post Oak. It was not until my mother started working at EECHS that I applied there. But I passed the interview process and made the toughest decision I had to make at the age of 14. Looking back now, I would not have done anything differently.

Your mother, Belinda, who serves as the school secretary at EECHS, returned to college at the same time you enrolled at the University of Houston to finish your bachelor’s degree. You both earned your diplomas on the same day. What was it like to graduate alongside your mother?

Victoria Herrera (standing) and her mother, Belinda, on their joint college graduation day

I could not have been more thankful to share that experience with her, and walk the stage the same day she did. It is a moment I will treasure throughout my life. It proved to me that it is never too late to achieve a dream, nor is it impossible to complete any desire in life.

Last month, you became the first EECHS student to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice (from the University of Houston-Downtown). What’s the next step for you?

I plan to public to provide aid in the needed areas of our criminal justice system.

According to your mother, your achievements would not have been possible without the great teachers and opportunities afforded you by HISD’s early college program. Would you agree with that statement?

I could not agree more. The early college program changed my life entirely! I am ahead of the average individual by 2.5 years, as I am 22 with a master’s degree. The professionals and staff within HISD have supported and made me who I am, both academically and motivationally.

If you know a graduate, student, employee, or other member of Team HISD who should be featured here, please email us at
One Response leave one →
  1. January 17, 2014

    I wanted to express my happiness and congratulations to Victoria and her mother. We both attended middle school together and all I can remember was a smart, hard working, dedicated and focused girl. I am proud to know who is a successful woman now. Congrats Victoria!

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