By Ruth Campbell
For four students at George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa, the transition from high school to college should be a little bit easier since they have earned a certificate or degree from Odessa College.
Isaac Ontiveros, Michael Welch, Jasmine Lopez and Saray Navarrete were among those walking the stage for OC before their New Tech commencement May 12. New Tech’s graduation is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 25 at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center.
Several of them worked and were involved in extracurricular activities in addition to taking dual credit courses.
Ontiveros is an 18-year-old senior who earned a certificate from OC in criminal justice. He plans to attend Texas Tech University and earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in criminal justice, since he already has credits for it.
Ontiveros said his brother had gone through the program before and earned a certificate.
“I was pursuing it (criminal justice) because I was going into the legal and political field, so I thought it was an interesting topic to take,” he said.
He said taking courses at Odessa College and an internship with the Ector County District Attorney’s Office gave him a glimpse of the legal system.
Working at Olive Garden in Odessa, Ontiveros said he often encourages parents to get their children to take dual credit classes and encourage them to attend OC for a degree.
“It’s exciting to me (to graduate from high school and OC),” Ontiveros said. “There are only a handful of us that are getting it. It gives you a little bit of a different background going into college.”
He added that he has loved New Tech since he started in his junior year. He went to Permian High School previously and still played trombone in the band.
“I’ve seen a huge difference. New Tech prepares you in ways that other schools don’t, such as talking about college in general,” Ontiveros said.
Lopez, who earned an associate degree in general studies from OC, said she thinks dual credit courses are an awesome opportunity. The 18-year-old was able to earn most of her credits during the four years she was at NTO so she said New Tech helped her and her peers a lot.
“I agree it was a unique opportunity because it was something that I came up with my sophomore year,” 18-year-old Navarrete said. “I looked into it. I told my counselor, ‘Hey, this is what I to do.’ New Tech has really prepared me for the classes that I needed to take. They helped me get through it. They provided me with guidance to get through it successfully and graduate before getting my high school diploma. …”
Navarrete said she plans to attend Texas Tech University and major in biochemistry, eventually going to medical school to become a surgeon.
Welch, also 18, earned a certificate in criminal justice. He plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin to study international relations.
“It was an amazing experience,” Welch said. “It really helped me figure out what I’m going to pursue during college.”
Lopez is planning to major in biology and earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Following that, she plans to attend medical school, also heading into surgery.
Graduating from New Tech, Navarrete said, feels like she’s closing the book on this chapter and she’ll have to put together everything she’s learned and take it wherever she decides to go.
“For me, I had to take all my dual credit and my regular classes here at New Tech. It was like seven or eight classes. I had to take five extra classes at OC. Last semester, I was taking about 17 hours of OC credits, and then this semester, I’m taking 19. I had to that as well as my two jobs outside of school, so I had to learn how to manage everything,” Navarrete said.
Keylah Cortinas and Artemio Caballero also earned their licensed vocational nurse certificates from OC.
Welch and Caballero also received awards of excellence from Odessa College.