Each and every student forms a legacy for their communities. Students at Jimmy Carter Early College High School exemplify a legacy of excellence. Since the 2010-2011 academic school year, students graduating from JCECHS leave ready to continue a legacy past secondary education. 

One such student, Carlos Rodriguez, earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He currently works as a mechanical engineer for LyondellBasell in Houston, Texas. Throughout his years as a student, he remembers his experience in JCECHS. 

“There were some robotics teams, when I was in Jimmy Carter. I was able to express my love towards engineering,” Rodriguez said. “Along with all the teachers, right, the teachers had a great influence on my career as well.” 

Rodriguez actually graduated back in 2015, after the high school had earned the early college distinction. He took the opportunity to earn a college degree at the flagship Early College High School of La Joya ISD, the only early college in the district at the time. 

“I was able to get a glimpse of what college was and that helped me once I got to college,” Rodriguez said. “It was giving us the opportunity to get an associates right out of high school, so I felt that was a great opportunity for me.” 

Rodriguez, being among the second class of students to graduate from JCECHS, benefited from the financially accommodating education at JCECHS. And once in college, he did not need to complete additional basic courses as he had already taken them during high school. 

“I didn’t want to worry about not being able to pay for college,” Rodriguez said. “I guess I was looking at it more financially.” 

Born in Mexico but raised in the valley; his family immigrated when he was just three years old. Rodriguez remained in the Valley until he moved to Corpus Christi shortly before settling in Houston to work for LyondellBasell. His formative years at JCECHS were cornerstones of his social life and career. 

“It was great because, well at least in my experience, I was able to socialize with everyone,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone had a different interest.” 

Rodriguez fostered his interests during his years at JCECHS, even trying to persuade others into them. He knew from an early age what he wanted to do, and by the end of high school he had earned an associates in mathematics. 

“My dad would do a lot of mechanic work and I always enjoyed doing it too,” Rodriguez said. “So I pursued mechanical engineering (…) one thing led to another.” 

Now, Rodriguez continues the legacy he has started. Recognizing JCECHS as a crucial stepping stone in his life. 

“It definitely shaped who I am now,” Rodriguez said. “As a mechanical engineer, as a father.” 

Jimmy Carter Early College High School students continue to better their communities and their legacy.

Yankarlo Munoz is a junior at Jimmy Carter Early College High School and serves as a reporter for the student newspaper. He recognizes the importance of journalism and values its ethical principles. He has contributed to the Student Publication and hopes to do more.