Texas Border Business
By Clarissa Martinez
Thanks to South Texas College Dual Credit Program, a group of high school students are celebrating professional certifications usually reserved for college students or industry professionals.
A total of 13 students from Economedes High School in Edinburg recently earned their Microsoft Office Specialist certifications while others earned their Adobe Professional certifications through the STC Information Technology program as dual credit students.
STC Dual Credit Instructor Maria Carmen Salinas said the students are part of the Computer Applications Specialist certificate program and did intensive studying to pass the multiple exams needed to earn the industry-recognized credentials.
“This is a major accomplishment for these students,” Salinas said. “Because it’s an STC class, I always push and encourage them to try new programs, and now they’ve reached this expert level.”
The Computer Applications Specialist program allows students to develop skills in business applications such as word processing, spreadsheet and database management systems, as well as multimedia software.
Norma L. Zaragoza, STC Information Technology Program instructor, said these expert credentials show that the students have the highest understanding of the software programs.
“These specific industry certifications are valid forever – they will not expire,” Zaragoza said. “So, these students have this as proof that they have the ability to work in the industry and also teach these programs in whatever workforce they’re going to be in. There’s a lot of potential for our students to continue in the field and we’re so excited and proud of them.”
Zaragoza added that the dual credit classes are also able to feed right into the Associate and Bachelor of Science programs offered at STC.
“All of this leads into the bachelor’s program for Information Technology so any of our students who are taking these courses are also able to enroll in the program,” Zaragoza said.
Jacob De La Cruz, a junior at Economedes High School, said he has always been interested in computers and programing, and that being among classmates pushed him to earn as many certifications as he could. He passed a total of five exams to earn the Microsoft Office Specialist Expert Certificate.
“I had already started learning about computers at home, and I taught myself 3D animation, at first,” De La Cruz said. “Then when I found out about this opportunity I decided to join. Once I started passing the (certification) exams, I just kept going and eventually earned five. Not every kid knows that this is out there and that it can help you find a decent job in the future.”
Senior Joseline Cuellar said she encourages students to consider how they can use the computer applications certificates in their future careers.
“I’m thinking about studying accounting,” Cuellar said. “The Microsoft Excel program is something accountants have to learn, and I’m already certified so it’s like I’m one step ahead.”
Brandon Rocha, a senior, said he found out about the STC program after taking Business Information Management, a high school class required for graduation.
“After that class I really became interested in Microsoft and I started seeing how much of an advantage learning all those programs can be,” Rocha said. “So, I went and talked to my counselor and she told me this certificate would be a perfect match.”
The Economedes students who earned Microsoft Office Specialist Associate certifications included Jaime Cavazos, Joseline Cuellar, Paola Davila, Jacob De La Cruz, Nia Garcia, Lyzette Garza, Israel Leal, Maximus Lorenzi, Joel Munoz, Brandon Rocha, Jocelyn Salas, Sergio Velasquez and Lesly Gracia.
In addition, five students passed the highest level for Microsoft Office Specialist exams, earning them Microsoft Office Specialist Expert Certificates. They were Joseline Cuellar Zamora, Jacob De La Cruz, Israel Leal, Brandon Rocha and Joel Munoz.
Students who passed the Adobe InDesign Certification were Kadee Gonzalez, Diego Gonzalez and George Lara. Two students passed both the Adobe Photoshop and InDesign exams, earning them the Adobe Certified Professionals in Visual Design certification. They were Ismael Gomez and Isai Quirion.
Rocha and his classmates agreed that their success was due to the effort they put into their studying. He added that he’s excited to see the dual program continue to grow.
“When our teacher started these classes in 2010, she only had four students,” Rocha said. “Now it has grown to eight classes, so it has definitely helped out a lot of students. Not many people get this type of opportunity while in high school. It gives us a really big advantage.”
For more information about the Information Technology programs at South Texas College, visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/information-technology/