18-year-old graduates with PTEC degree and internship
Juaquin Bautista, 18, remembers sitting in his first process technology class at College of the Mainland, as a student with average high school grades, and feeling lost.
“I remember my first real semester at COM I really struggled. But the challenges you face on the road to becoming the person you set out to be do nothing else but make you stronger,” said Bautista.
Giving the address at College of the Mainland’s afternoon commencement, Bautista spoke of his motivation to enroll in COM Collegiate High School and begin college classes at 16.
“She was a single mom supporting four kids and working two jobs when she decided to go back. Two years after starting the PTEC program she received her degree. The sheer determination and strength of some people is enough to move mountains,” said Bautista, whose mother, Elma Aguilera, now works as a process operator at Ineos Olefins and Polymers Chocolate Bayou.
Bautista aimed to finish the five-semester PTEC program by high school graduation to take advantage of discounted tuition for CHS students. He began classes the summer before his junior year.
After a bit of a rocky start, he earned a 3.75 GPA and made the Dean’s List in fall 2014 and the Dean’s Highest Honors List in spring 2015. He became a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international community college honor society, in May 2015.
“With a lot of hard work and commitment he received an internship with Praxair this spring,” said Sandi Belcher, COM Collegiate High School principal.
As a Collegiate High School student, he took all his classes at COM while being eligible for extracurricular activities at his high school.
“I don't think I’m the smartest kid in the class. I think I’m determined,” said Bautista, adding that his GPA was about 2.0 before he came to COM. “All of the Collegiate High School staff pushed us to do our best.”
He succeeded in completing 65 hours of college credit in just two years.
“I wouldn’t be here without people helping me achieve my goals,” said Bautista. “I have a lot of friends in PTEC whom I’ve met over the past two years. I’d help my fellow graduates study and they’d help me study. The professors are always willing to help you if you ask for help.”
Bautista is now applying for jobs as a process technician.
“Eventually you reach a point where you’ve built up so much momentum that it is impossible for anything to stop you,” said Bautista. “And everything we have done up until now has prepared us to triumph.”