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Sharyland High holds 5th annual alumni panel

For the fifth year in a row, graduates from Sharyland High School returned to their alma mater to discuss their freshman year of college to current Rattlers.

Held Thursday, Jan. 9, the Sharyland High School 5th annual alumni panel invited seven students in colleges across the state and country to return to Sharyland High School to talk to high school students in the form of a Q&A panel.

Sharyland High School alumni (from top left) Oscar Garcia, Daniel Montalvo, Diego Lopez, Javier Lopez, Sua Cho, Eduardo Torres and Laura Garza. Progress Times photo by Jose De Leon III

 “We hope the panel makes the transition easier for high school students when they go to college because these students are able to gain an idea of unexpected things that occur, the struggles and hardships the college freshmen faced and make plans to face that and deal with that,” Sharyland High School Counselor  Carol Santiago said. “It helps them start thinking about the things they need to do while they’re in high school because sometimes we’ll get a senior who says ‘Well I wish I knew as a freshmen which classes were important’ and other similar comments and this will help with that.

The seven students were Sua Cho, who is attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C. to study international affairs; Oscar Garcia, a student at the University of Houston who is studying computer engineering; Diego Lopez, who is attending Rice University and studying mechanical engineering;  Eduardo Torres and Javier Lopez, who are studying at Texas A&M to study biomedical science and mechanical engineering, respectively; Laura Garza, an undeclared student at the University of Texas at Austin, and Daniel Montalvo, who is studying computer science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

“It’s weird being here, whenever I’d attend this panel at Sharyland I didn’t take anything the panelists were saying seriously,” Torres said. “I’d find everything they were saying to be cliche and forced but now I’m repeating a lot of what they said because a lot of what the panelists were saying is true.”

The hour long panel invited students to ask questions directed at any or all panelists about their experiences in college. Questions ranged from asking the panelists about their living situations in college, a skill  they wished they’d have mastered in high school to use in college (the panelists agreed on the answer of time management), how to deal with homesickness and medical emergencies at school.

“Panels like these to help high school students because as college freshmen, we’re almost on the same level as them and we actually know a lot of people in the audience,” Garza said. “It’s easier for us to relate to them and them to us because we are very familiar with the fears and questions they have. Whenever I attended these panels, I felt like they were helpful so I wanted to be helpful and include my own experiences.”

Sua Cho said she decided to join the panel to advocate for students to attend college outside the area. She was the only panelist attending a college outside the state and like the other panelists, advocated for students at Sharyland to take their school work seriously.

“I’ve noticed a lot in college that people think that high school was the end of their journey, but it’s actually the beginning of your real life,” Cho said. “Sharyland has a lot of good opportunities to let people gain experience but people don’t want to do that. They want to pursue other things and have fun but a lot of experience you gain in high school will help in college. It’ll make a difference for you in real life.”

Cho and the rest of the panelists recommended to students that they take advantage of the programs the school has to offer such as the Go Center, a counseling department dedicated to assist students in their college applications, and to take dual enrollment and AP courses to gain college credit.

Another tip to survive college is to remember to have fun, Lopez said.

“There’s some people that will go to college at a good university and get terrified of it,” Lopez said. “They have to remember to have fun and be social. Go to sports games and explore the university and join a club or two. It’s possible to balance a social life in college.”

This article originally appeared in the Friday Jan. 17, 2020 issue of the Progress Times.

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