84 HISD grads now have diplomas plus degrees or workforce certifications
Many of the students who graduated in the first cohort of the HISD Futures Academy are the first in their family to attend college, aspire to be leaders, and have big dreams for their future.
Some dream of leaving behind their old neighborhoods and leading their families to a better livelihood by becoming architects, engineers, entrepreneurs or computer game developers.
On Thursday night, these students moved one step closer to their dreams as they walked across the stage at Houston Community College to receive their associate degrees and work certifications, only a few months after graduating from high school.
“I feel nervous right now because this is such a big deal for my family,” said Daniel Liggins, who graduated from the Futures Academy of Logistics and Global Supply at Sterling High School with an associate’s degree in business logistics. “I grew up in a rough neighborhood and always saw people struggling to make it. That has been a big motivator for me. I wanted to do well in school and just be a good role model for my little brother.”
Liggins was among 84 students to be recognized at a special graduation ceremony for five Futures Academies – the Academy of Manufacturing Engineering at Booker T. Washington High School, the Academy of Engineering Technology at Furr High School, the Academy of Process Technology at Kashmere High School, the Academy of Network & Computer Administration at Scarborough High School, and the Sterling academy.
The Futures Academy formed two years ago by HISD to prepare students for life beyond a high school diploma by providing students with access to knowledge and career skills to help jumpstart their future. Through a partnership with HCC, students are able to receive college credit, career training, and industry credentials to provide them with options for a promising future after completing high school.
“For many of these students, it’s been a long road and a rigorous process, but they’ve accomplished something most high school students don’t do,” said Futures Academy Assistant Superintendent Michael Love.
Over the summer, 59 students in the program earned an associate’s degree in applied science from HCC while 25 students received a Level 1 Certificate in workforce programs such as technology, computer administration and engineering. The students now plan to continue their studies at a four-year university or head straight into the workforce.
“Since I was in elementary school, I’ve always wanted to go to college,” said Jessica Garza, who received her associate’s in petroleum engineering technology. As the first in her family to attend college, she will continue her education later this month at Texas A&M University to study architecture. “I want to be able to help my family because I’ve seen how much they’ve struggled.”
Garza says the academy helped her improve her study habits, stay focused and prepare for a more challenging course load at a four-year university. Liggins, who will continue his education at Prairie View A&M University, says his experience in the academy taught him to be more self-sufficient. Other students like Scarborough graduate Anthony McCarble says he would not be ready to continue his education in computer gaming at the University of Houston-Victoria if he had not been in the academy. McCarble says the academy of network and computer administration taught him more about coding for the web.
Washington graduate Christian Guzman, who will go on to study mechanical engineering at Oklahoma University, expressed his gratitude for the academy of manufacturing engineering technology by giving rings he made out of stainless steel to academy leaders.
“I learned how to make this ring because of Futures,” Guzman said. “I didn’t just get a general education. I feel trained to work in the real world, and that’s what will help me be successful.”