When Jesus Herrera enrolled into Mansfield ISD’s Early College High School, his goal was to save time and money as he worked toward his goal of becoming an engineer.
The high school, in partnership with Tarrant County College Southeast, provides students the opportunity to take college-level courses without having to pay for tuition and books.
Herrera will be part of the school’s first graduating class. He'll be crossing the stage with an associate degree and 70 hours of college credit—and he recently found out that his Ivy League bachelor’s degree won’t cost him a thing.
“I received the QuestBridge National Scholarship and the Dell Scholars Scholarship, and I’ll be going to Princeton on a full ride,” Herrera explained.
The senior said he applied for both scholarships at the suggestion of Katherine Levenson, a social studies and AVID teacher at the Early College High School. Those suggestions have paid off for him in a big way.
As a Dell Scholar, Herrera was awarded $20,000 annually, a laptop, textbook credits and ongoing support to students who demonstrate that they have a different type of GPA—grit, potential and ambition.
The QuestBridge Match Scholarship helps high-achieving, low-income students gain admission and scholarships to 45 of the country’s top-ranked colleges. Match Scholarship recipients are granted early admission to one of QuestBridge's college partners with a full four-year scholarship, worth over $200,000. It covers the cost of attendance, tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses.
“I’m still in disbelief,” said Herrera. “I can’t believe that I will be going to Princeton for free, but I’m so grateful and excited for the opportunity.”
Herrera noted that the Early College High School program has helped him a lot because of the rigor of the college courses.
Principal Erica Bennett said the 18-year-old is a prodigy student and a perfect example of how the school can help students reach their next level of success.
“His focus and discipline and his work ethic has allowed him to really transform what ECHS looks like,” said Bennett. “When they came to us in their ninth grade year, they were our babies. It makes me feel proud. I’m proud as a principal, but I’m proud almost as a parent.”
Herrera plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in engineering and pursue his master’s degree in the same field. He hopes to use his degrees to work for the government or start his own company.
“It’s always been one of my goals just to never settle with things that are small,” he said. “I know how to work. I know how to put in the work, and I just hope I can reach big things for the future.”
MISD’s Early College High School opened in 2017 and is a part of the district’s Power of Choice initiative. Learn more about the specialized program here.