AISD students leave high school with ACC degrees

"I like a challenge so that helped me," said Nora Pineda, 18. Pineda started taking ACC classes when she was in the 9th grade and part of the first class of LBJ Early College High School.

"I'm walking away with an associate's degree and getting my certificates in firefighting and EMT," said Pineda.

She and ten others graduated from ACC in May. On Friday they put their cap and gowns back on to walk across the stage with their LBJ classmates.

"I think it's setting me up for a better life style," said Pineda who is the first in her family to go to college.

"It's just amazing," said LBJ ECHS Principal Sheila Henry. "Whether they leave with three hours or 60 it's a success story because that's time and effort they put into a program," she added.

Henry hopes the program grows creating even more opportunities for students.

"At the end of the day that's what it's all about to have options whether it's careers, colleges or universities or even straight to work they need options to explore," said Henry.

Henry hugged her students as they walked across the stage describing this graduation ceremony as very special and memorable.

"My advice would be to take advantage of it because you're going to save a lot of money," said Pineda.

Pineda is going to Texas State University to study engineering and has a plan to pay for it.

"Since I'm getting my EMT I'm going to try to use that to pay off college," said Pineda.

During her speech to her students Henry quoted Nelson Mandela. "As he would say education is the most powerful tool to change the world," said Henry referencing Mandela.

Nora knows she aced a lesson in hard work that will pay off.

"I would say thank you for everything you guys were the best," said Pineda.

Henry says through the program students can actually save around $17,000.