Empowerment High School students join ranks of HCC Eagles
Oct 7, 2022
About 40 Empowerment High School students have taken flight as Houston Community College Eagles with the start of their new, dual-credit journey.
To kick off the first cohort of 39 freshmen and sophomores in the high school’s Early College Academy, students took part in an Academic Signing Day on Sept. 2 where they committed to earning associate of arts degrees from HCC while also getting their high school diplomas.
Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, president of HCC Southwest and vice chancellor of HCC Workforce Instruction, saluted the new dual students.
“I am honored to welcome you as new college students of HCC Southwest’s Dual Credit program starting in fall 2022,” she said. “This selection will allow you to accelerate the completion of your college degree faster and serve as a smooth transition to a four-year university or enter the workforce. This is also a great opportunity for you save thousands of dollars in college tuition.”
“HCC welcomes Empowerment High School as new HCC Eagles,” said Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, president of HCC Southwest and vice chancellor of HCC Workforce Instruction. “HCC faculty and staff, along with Swoop, welcome as they commit to their college dual credit journey. We are very proud of them and HCC’s partnership with Southwest Schools.”
Southwest Schools is one of the first charter schools where students gain admission to HCC, earn 60-plus hours of dual credit at no cost, increase college and career readiness and create a seamless transition from high school to college.
The charter school’s partnership with HCC is a “perfect fit” given the long-term relationship it has enjoyed with the college, said Samuel West, director of College Career and Military Readiness at Southwest Schools.
“We had options to go to other colleges but we definitely value our partnership with HCC over the last 19 years,” he said. “It started in back in 2003 with our AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program and now we want to expand and go further with the Early College Academy.
Next school year, Southwest Schools will apply for the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-Tech) designation from the Texas Education Agency, which recognizes innovative, open-enrollment high schools that allow students least likely to attend college the opportunity to receive both a high school diploma and a credential and/or an associate degree, West said.
Diego Flores, an Empowerment High School sophomore, said he wants to succeed in the dual credit program to pave the way for his younger brother, Emilio, an eighth-grader at Discovery Middle School.
“This (program) will take me a step further and whenever I get to college I’ll already know what to do, and I’ll already be ahead of some students in my grade,” said Flores, 15, who plans to be pursue computer engineering. “I also want to do it because of my dad, who was chief engineer of operations at a commercial building. I want to help office employees with their computers.”
Athena Walker, director of college P-16 initiatives at HCC Southwest, also welcomed the new students.
“It is exciting to see a new cohort of students joining the increasing number of students earning an associate’s degree,” she said. “Our new Eagles will undoubtedly soar to new heights on this journey and our team is happy to partner with Empowerment High School to guide them on this path.”