Thursday, May 11, 2017

Valedictorian looks forward to success in the U.S.

• Midland College Student Success

By Rebecca Bell
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events

MC Photo by Rebecca Bell
Five years ago, Bernardo Chuecos was not only in a new school, but also in a new country. Today, he is valedictorian of Early College High School at Midland College (ECHS@MC), and he is receiving both his high school diploma and associate degree.

Chuecos and his family are Venezuelan natives. In 2012, his mother, who was trained as an engineer in Venezuela, accepted a job teaching at Ector County Independent School District’s engineering and technology magnet school--Zavala Elementary.

“Living in Venezuela was unsafe and expensive,” said Bernardo. “My parents were looking for an opportunity to leave the country so that my older brothers and I could get a better education and have better opportunities.”

Thankfully, the family was able to relocate to Midland. Bernardo’s father, who is also an engineer, landed a job at Schumann Engineering in Midland. Bernardo’s older brothers began studying toward degrees at The University of Texas at the Permian Basin, and Bernardo enrolled in the 8th grade at San Jacinto Junior High in Midland.

“It was definitely an adjustment,” said Chuecos. “In Venezuela, I had been taking English classes since kindergarten, but I wasn’t fluent. I learned a lot of English by watching American TV shows and listening to American music.“

In 2013, Bernardo successfully completed the rigorous application process for ECHS@MC, and in August of that year, he began his high school freshman year. During his four years at ECHS@MC, Chuecos has been a member of the National Honor Society and Texas Scholars and has completed over 140 hours of community service.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely choose ECHS,” said Chuecos. “It has allowed me to complete the first two years toward a baccalaureate degree and has prepared me for an American university.”

The accelerated curriculum at ECHS@MC allows for students to take college courses during their 11th- and 12th-grade years. While enrolled in Midland College courses, Chuecos took 12 hours of honors credit as part of the MC Honors Program. He successfully designed an ecosystem habitat for his honors biology project and developed a computer software program to keep track of airline flights for a computer programming project. Because of his Honors Program work at MC, Chuecos has the distinction of being a Midland College Scholar. In addition to being ranked the top in his class in high school, Chuecos has also maintained a 4.0 grade point average in his college courses.

He credits a great deal of his college success to the Midland College faculty. He fondly recalled several of his professors, including Biology Professor Dr. Paul Mangum and History Professor Dr. Todd Houck.

When Chuecos was in the 9th grade, he began a hobby of coding and designing games for mobile apps. Later, he took a Midland College computer programming course from Adriana Lumpkin, and that’s when he knew that he wanted to pursue a career as a computer software developer. In August, Chuecos will begin taking classes at The University of Texas at Austin toward a bachelor’s degree in Computer Programming, which he plans to complete in two years and then work toward a master’s degree.

“My parents moved to the United States so that we would have a better life,” explained Chuecos. “They told my brothers and me that being successful and having a good life also means working hard. I hope to become a naturalized citizen one day. My family and I are happy to call the United States our home, and I will continue to work hard to ensure my future success in this country.”

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