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Student strives and succeeds at ECHS@MCNovember 15, 2018

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Leslie Alvarez

Seventeen-year-old Leslie Alvarez recalls translating for her parents at a young age, and remaining prideful in her roots because of her parent's efforts to preserve her culture while she taught them the new American culture.

“My parents are hard-working Mexican immigrants,” explained Alvarez.  “My father was an oilfield truck driver until he suffered injuries from an accident. My mother works for Coca Cola Company taking on tasks that are said to be a ‘man's job’. She is a huge role model for me, reminding me that being a woman should never hold you back from doing anything. Even though she works at a physically demanding job during the days, she always has time for her family.

“My parents and I usually eat lunch together at the house. The meals we share together have been incredibly influential times in my life. We talk about our days and obstacles we might have faced.  We comfort each other, and most of all, we support each other. Any uphill battle is easier when there are people behind you pushing you up that hill.

“My father is the most intelligent man I have ever met. The accident he suffered left him disabled, but he never let that be an excuse. He always found a way to provide for us. He purchased land and now rents RV spaces on our property. We are by no means wealthy, but never for a moment have I needed for anything.”

Alvarez started elementary school in Fort Hancock, TX—about 100 miles east of El Paso.  When she was in the 2nd grade, the family moved to Midland, where she attended Bush Elementary, Henderson Elementary and Abell Junior High.  She has two older sisters: Karina who is 26 and Cynthia who is 30.

Leslie is currently a high school senior attending Early College High School at Midland College (ECHS@MC).  By taking an accelerated high school curriculum and Midland College courses, she will receive both a high school diploma and an associate degree this coming May.

“I always wanted to attend college, but attending always felt like a ‘far away’ concept to me. When I was in 8th grade at Abell Junior High, one of my teachers strongly recommended that I apply for ECHS@MC. ECHS was known as the place where smart kids go, so I was intimidated.”

Excitingly enough, Leslie Alvarez was accepted into ECHS@MC at the end of her 8th-grade year and began the rigorous curriculum in the 9th grade.  Instead of being an average student, Alvarez now makes mostly A’s with a few Bs.  She only has 10 hours left to obtain an associate degree and is in the process of applying to Texas State University and Angelo State University, where she will work toward a bachelor’s degree in a science field so that she can apply to medical school in a couple of years.

“The accident that my father suffered affected his head, shoulders, ribs, spine and knees,” explained Alvarez.  “He had amazing doctors, and some were bilingual. I remember thinking that these physicians were incredible, and it must be great to be able to help people.  At the time, I could only dream of becoming one of those doctors, but now that I've attended ECHS@MC, that dream just may become a reality.

“Just recently I shadowed a local surgeon, Dr. Russell Van Husen. The experience was surreal.”

Alvarez said that the teachers and counselors at ECHS@MC helped her to learn about scholarships and federal financial aid.  They also offered her support in completing college applications.

Alvarez admitted that ECHS@MC can often be tougher than traditional high schools.  Her school day begins at 7:30 in the morning and is over around 4:30 p.m. Evenings are spent doing homework, studying for exams and writing papers.  She has a day planner that is never out of her sight. She uses this to keep track of all her class times, homework assignments and extracurricular activities.  

“ECHS@MC is tough, but it is definitely worth it,” said Alvarez.  “It has opened a whole new pathway for my life. Not only has it prepared me to continue my education, but I’ve also discovered interests that I never dreamed I had.”

Although her main love is science, Alvarez has also discovered interests in social and political agendas.  For the Midland College Honors program, she has researched and written a paper on the effects of a border wall on the ecosystems of surrounding border states and the social, educational and political impacts.  Her project on gun control won Honorable Mention at the 2018 West Texas Symposium of History.

“I am so grateful to have landed at ECHS@MC,” said Alvarez.  “In May, I will be the first person in my family to receive a college degree. The girl who learned to speak English at Benito Martinez Elementary School in Fort Hancock will soon be on her way to becoming a physician!”

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