ECHS@MC student on way to Cornell University

ECHS@MC student on way to Cornell UniversityMay 18, 2022

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Caleb Goillandeau

On July 17, Caleb Goillandeau will be 18 years old; however, before then, he graduated from Midland College with an associate degree on May 13, and then will receive his high school diploma from Early College High School at Midland College (ECHS@MC) on May 20.  In mid-August, he will travel to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he will major in Biological Sciences on a pre-med track.

“People often ask me why I chose Cornell,” Goillandeau said.  “The main reason is that it’s an Ivy League school with a great reputation, but also I have relatives living in that area.  I applied to Cornell and several schools in Texas.  I was also accepted into the University of Texas Austin, but I’ve always wanted to go to Cornell.  When I received the acceptance letter a few months ago, I wasn’t sure we could make it work financially.  Thankfully, I will receive several scholarships.  Cornell will provide me with networking connections and research opportunities, surrounded by other scholars who take an interest in developing themselves.”

Goillandeau is one of the top five students in the graduating class of ECHS@MC.  He has been attending the accelerated high school located on the Midland College main campus since the beginning of his 10th-grade year.  

“I applied to ECHS@MC when I was in the 8th grade at Goddard Junior High,” he explained.  “That year I was denied acceptance, but I was determined to get into the program; I loved the idea of being academically challenged.  After hearing about ECHS@MC and how I could get both a high school diploma and college degree at the same time, I knew that was the program for me.  So the next year while I was a 9th-grader at Midland Freshman School, I applied again as a transfer student.  Thankfully, I was accepted as a sophomore.”

Goillandeau said that he has not regretted his decision for a minute.

“I love the fast-paced environment!” he exclaimed.  “It’s also given me an opportunity to make friends outside of just my age group.  Through my college courses, I’ve participated in learning teams and discussion groups with traditional-aged college students, as well as adults.  After I got over my intimidation of being the youngest in the group, I found that we all work well together.  Because of where we are in life, we have different outlooks, but that just makes our discussions more interesting.”

ECHS@MC is a four-year high school partnership between the Midland Independent School District and Midland College. Because of an accelerated curriculum, students have the opportunity to graduate high school with an associate degree and enter college ready for a bachelor's degree program. 

There is no cost for students to attend ECHS@MC. Midland College offers a full scholarship to all students so that they do not have to pay college tuition. Scholarship funding is provided through community donations, and each year, Midland College directs all funds received through Permian Basin Gives Day to the ECHS@MC Scholarship.  

ECHS@MC is ranked among the best high schools in Texas and is considered No. 1 in the Midland metropolitan area, according to U.S. News and World Report. 

According to the rankings, ECHS@MC sits at No. 195 among the state's thousands of high schools. Early College High School at Midland College also ranked among the top 40 percent of schools nationwide. One might think that with those rankings, ECHS@MC accepts only students in an elite, privileged category. However, that is not the case, at all.  Minority enrollment at ECHS is 87 percent, and 49 percent are economically disadvantaged.

“It hasn’t been always been easy, but I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had in the program, especially being able to take college courses from college professors,” Goillandeau said. “The ECHS@MC curriculum has pushed me to do my best—to do something different than just getting a high school diploma.  I’ve learned how to use resources, improve time management skills and refine my personal values.”  

Goillandeau has also proven to be a student leader—not just at the high school level, but also at the collegiate level.  This past year, he was an officer in MC’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society and was instrumental in coordinating a student-produced podcast at Midland College.

“I remember my first few PTK meetings,” he recalled.  “I sat in and ate the free food, Then, in one meeting, Dr. Gilmour [Dr. Terry Gilmour, MC Government Professor and PTK Advisor] talked about creating a podcast for Midland College. Being a podcast enthusiast, I immediately talked to her about it. A few weeks later I became the Vice President of Leadership and oversaw the Midland College podcast. The podcast was a way to showcase all students at MC—ECHS and honor students, as well as non-traditional students—those who were older and coming back to get skills training or upgrade current skills.

“Through PTK, I also met my best friend Anna who attends a community college in the Dallas area.  PTK gave me connections that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Goillandeau is an only child.  His father, Sebastian Goillandeau, was in the U.S. Army, and Caleb was born on a military base in Italy.  When he was two years old, his father was transferred to Fort Hood in Killeen, TX.  His parents later divorced, and Caleb moved to Midland with his mother April Franco.  He attended Midland Independent School District elementary schools--Anson Jones Elementary, Bush Elementary and Washington STEM Academy.  

“When I was a freshman in high school, I picked up a book in the Midland Freshman School library entitled The Hot Zone by Richard Preston,” Goillandeau said.  “It’s a true story about an Ebola Virus outbreak.  The book sparked my interest in infectious diseases, even before the COVID pandemic.  Right now, my goal is to pursue my interest in infectious diseases, probably through medical school when I graduate from Cornell.  In addition to a medical degree, I’m also interested in pursuing a Ph.D.”

In his spare time, Goillandeau enjoys playing tennis and playing the violin.  

On Friday evening, May 13, Goillandeau was the selected student speaker at Midland College’s graduation ceremony.  During his speech, Caleb addressed his fellow Midland College graduates and said:

“While the world doubted you, you kept on running. While you went through the challenges of Midland College, you kept on dreaming. You looked at your future, you looked at your life and said, ‘I see the future I want, and I am going to get there.’”

At the close of the interview for this article, Caleb Goillandeau remarked:

“I have had an amazing experience at ECHS@MC.  Thank you for the opportunity to study at Midland College and be the highest achieving student I can be.”

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