By Veronica Hernandez Back in 2009 I was faced with the most important decision of my life. I had to choose whether to go to a regular high school in this case Nixon, or attend Laredo Early College High School. In 2009 I had no clue of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Part of me wanted to have that “high school” experience, and to be with my friends. The other part of me was somehow forcing me to mature and already have my mind made of what career I wanted to pursue. I remember being really scared of failing my 1st year of high school. The recruiter of Early College made it seem that the school was very difficult, and that students were expected to have A’s in all of their classes. My mentality was that if I failed my freshmen year I would go to Nixon and end of story. My mom encouraged me to try my 1st year out and told me that if I didn’t like it she would let me go to Nixon. So I decided to give Early College a try.   My freshmen year went by really fast and that was just the beginning. The thing I remember the most was that TAMIU students would always hate on us. I would hear comments in the hallway like “Ugh here come these kids again”, “They are kids how could they be smart?”, “Early College Students are so immature”, and stuff like that. At first these comments would really get to me. Why  TAMIU students would insult us like that, I never understood. We always knew that we were different, but we never felt like we were different. From the very beginning we taught to act mature and appreciate this opportunity as much as we could. In my generation’s case that’s exactly what we did. We took our classes together, we studied, and helped each other out always. In total the freshman class was of 120 students. We stuck together and helped each other get through every year.   In 2013 my class graduated about 90 students. We lost some students along the way, but that made us stronger and loosing our peers made us bond even more.During my transition of graduating high school and going to TAMIU I realized so many things. If I hadn’t gone to Early College I wouldn’t have started college 1 year ahead from regular high school students. I also wouldn’t have saved about 10,000 dollars worth of tuition. I also realized that taking this opportunity was the best decision I could’ve made. I remember that in one of my Communication classes we watched a video on how people in other countries don’t have access to higher education.   For example, in Mexico you have to pay for middle/high school, and also for your University education. Here in the United States going to middle and high school is mandatory and you don’t have to pay. Here in the US University students have several options to pay their tuition. In Mexico you either have money to pay or you don’t. The government doesn’t help students pay tuition like here in the US. Thinking about all of the troubles that students and their parents in Mexico go through made me realize how lucky I was to have the opportunity to go to Early College. I never payed for anything. We were all provided with laptops to do our homework, and we were all provided with our high school and college course books. Even though we are in a modern society there are still millions of people around the world who don’t have access to basic education let alone higher education.   So now every time I have that “I don’t want to go to school” phase I remember that video of struggling students and snap out of my phase. I always reconsider and think to myself I have to graduate because other students wish to have my place in this country, and I’m over here complaining. I had the opportunity of attending Early College and having a free education. Now that I am close to university graduation, I realize that back in 2009, I did make the best decision of my life.   Life is not easy and you have to work really hard to pursue your goals. It’s important to appreciate what you have. Other people in other countries would do anything to have the opportunities that you have. I am so honored to have graduated with honors and from one of the best high schools in the Nation. Not many students have this type of opportunity, and I can assure that no students’ work as hard as Early College students. We are taught to mature fast to be at a college student level, and we are also taught to appreciate the opportunity. This is why Early College is the best high school in the nation, and that is why up to now I don’t regret going to ECHS.

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