Sophomore Kayla De Leon toured Washington University at St. Louis this summer. She was invited by Harvard alumnus Queen Martin and Carter principal Claudia Gomez-Perez.

Kayla was one out of two students that were afforded the opportunity to travel outside of Texas and tour universities. Kayla was chosen by freshman Algebra I teacher, Queen Martin, a recent graduate from Harvard University and by Carter’s principal because of her involvement in UIL Math and her academic accomplishments. 

Enjoying breakfast at Washington University.
Enjoying breakfast at Washington University.

Washington University at St. Louis is a diverse private research university most noted for their colleges of Medicine, Business, Engineering, Biological, and Biomedical Sciences. WashU is a campus with distinct opportunities to some available in Texas. 

”It was pretty cool, I had never traveled outside of Texas before and on a plane, so I saw many new places, and it was very interesting,” said Kayla, “I felt like I was privileged. Not many people get to have this opportunity, and the fact that I got it, well I felt very privileged.”

Kayla did not travel alone. She went with other La Joya students from Thelma Salinas STEM ECHS, The Academy of Health Science Professions and other schools from Pharr and Weslaco. Kayla met other participants at a pre-session event where procedures for the trip were discussed. During this session, Kayla was able to mingle and get to know her soon to be friends. 

 Kayla’s expenses were covered by the Texas Graduate Center, located in Edinburg and by La Joya ISD. The Texas Graduate Center is an organization that supports programs in higher education and helps individuals from all over the Rio Grande Valley to pursue higher education all over the U.S. 

While visiting WashU, Kayla got to interact with alumni and learned about their struggles, accomplishments, and the overall college experience.

Kayla reflects on what she learned from this trip through her interactions, sightseeing, and learning about the university. Plans for Kayla include applying to Washington University and attend their medical school. 

“I hope that I can apply and go to Washington University because it is a good campus and it has helped me a lot,” said Kayla. 

Marissa Llamas is currently a junior at Jimmy Carter Early College High School. She is in extracurricular activities such as UIL, The National Honor Society and the Texas Association of Future Educators. She has been doing UIL Academics ever since her freshman year and is currently in Mathematics and Number Sense. When she first joined UIL Math, she was shocked to see how she was the only freshman on the team. Last year as a sophomore, she went to the TMSCA competition for UIL Math in San Antonio. This year she was promoted as captain for her UIL Math Team. Her academic goals include to pass all her classes, to hopefully receive internships during the summer, and she plans to lead her Math team straight to regionals in San Antonio. She values how with a little determination, a touch of drive, and with true diligence anything is possible. 

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