Sveta Roady

Collegiate High School graduate found her voice at COM

To the 514 students in the College of the Mainland 2014 graduating class, the college became many things – a place to discover a passion, to pursue a skill, to launch a career.

To Sveta Roady, of Santa Fe, the college became a place to find her voice and earn a degree at 18.

In a COM English class, Roady completed a project on her passion – autism – and discovered she enjoyed voicing her thoughts. She refused to stop there, volunteering to speak at honor society events and at the COM Symposium, earning Best Overall Project.

She will serve as student speaker at the COM commencement ceremony for those graduating with an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science or GED May 10 at 10 a.m. at the Abundant Life Center in La Marque. A second graduation ceremony for those graduating with an Associate of Applied Science or certificate will be held at 2 p.m. the same day.

“Coming to COM Collegiate High School was how I had to step out of my comfort zone,” said Roady. “Teachers and staff all work together to push you. They know you personally.”

As part of COM Collegiate High School, Roady took all of her classes at the college, while being eligible for extracurricular activities at her high school. Roady will graduate with her associate degree from COM one month before earning her high school diploma from Dickinson High School.

“She’s no longer the shy lady who stepped on our campus,” said Collegiate High School principal Sandi Belcher. “She’s a leader. She’ll speak up and give her opinion. She’s very articulate.”

Although learning how to organize a speech and write a college essay are skills she will take to Texas Women’s University, Roady also treasures the leadership skills and friends she gained.  

Professor Dalel Serda was one who especially challenged her.

“She really drew out my inner leader because I was a very shy person when I came here,” Roady recalled.

Roady’s transformation began in Serda’s class with a community project close to her heart – creating a website offering support for those with autistic family members.

Her own family’s story assisted her – one of Roady’s younger brothers was diagnosed with autism at 2. She created a survey gauging the public’s perception of autism and gleaned stories of family members of autistic children.

“There are a lot of websites for mothers, but I tried to make one broader for families,” Roady explained.

Serda encouraged her to enter the project in the COM Symposium and also spurred her involvement in Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college honor society.  Roady served as the COM chapter’s co-chair of service and fellowship. She helped create the group’s Honors in Action Project, where she and other members met with COM President Beth Lewis while designing a project to help students excel during finals.

Roady plans to pursue a career as an occupational or speech therapist to assist students with autism.

“The best thing I ever did was to come here,” she said, adding that her brother has followed in her footsteps to COM Collegiate High School. “I feel like I became better.”

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