It was during my freshman year of high school when I first realized that STEM was not the career pathway I wanted to pursue. While I understood the importance of a strong foundation in STEM fundamentals, my real passion was business.
My story starts my freshman year of high school in Pharr, a south Texas border town. I applied to a STEM school in my district which had a reputation for academic excellence. I was accepted, and my family was ecstatic. Being the youngest of six sisters in a family of humble migrant farm workers, I grew up in the fields, worked hard and believed in the opportunities a good education could bring.
I had been attending the STEM high school for a month when I began to question whether this was the right school for me. I started researching high school business programs in the area and found Southwest Marketing, a high school-based student-led marketing agency at PSJA Southwest Early College High School. The program piqued my interest as it enables students to provide marketing solutions and services to real-world customers in exchange for hands-on learning opportunities.
I transferred to PSJA Southwest ECHS and quickly realized that I would have the opportunity to be a business leader in my community with the aid of Southwest Marketing. When I first thought about a marketing program like this, I thought it would bring in business leaders to talk about their occupations and that would be my experience with “working with businesses”. But as I sat through my first class, my mind was blown. Not only was I learning about the fundamentals of business and marketing, I was able to apply them as a marketing consultant working with high level executives. When I became the president of the Southwest Marketing agency my junior year, we decided to take our efforts to the next level. We began collaborating with International multi-million-dollar corporations and serviced fourteen different clients.
Thanks to the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and PSJA Southwest ECHS, I now have the experience and skills to succeed as a business student at the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, where I plan to attend in the fall. Most importantly, I discovered my passion for marketing and strategic communications. People know Career and Technical Education by many different names, but for me it is “Southwest Marketing.”
Dioselina De La Cruz is a senior at PSJA Southwest Early College High School in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and serves as the President of PSJA Southwest Marketing.