Photo Caption: With the odds stacked against her, dual credit student Ayssa Sanchez talks about her journey of graduating with an associate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from STC while also set to graduate as valedictorian of her class at Edinburg High School. Sanchez looks to transfer to Duke University in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, hoping to one day enter medical school.
With the odds stacked against her, South Texas College graduate and Edinburg High School valedictorian Ayssa Sanchez talks about her journey of graduating with an associate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies before even becoming a high school graduate.
In May, Ayssa Sanchez stepped across the STC commencement stage as a dual credit student thanks to unshakeable perseverance and an ability to excel as motivation to break a generational cycle of poverty.
Born a stone’s throw from the border in Hidalgo, Texas, raised by a single mother at the age of three, and then forced to grow up fast when her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma, Sanchez said the odds were stacked against her. But she knew that education was her only option.
“I have lived in humble abodes and in less-than-ideal neighborhoods where drug busts, gang fights and murders are part of our norm – many assumed that I would fall into drugs or get pregnant due to the neighborhood we lived in or the struggles I faced,” Sanchez said. “The truth is my aspirations have always been greater than the likelihood of living a mundane existence. I was able to turn all the pain I held inside and transform it into a fuel that ignited a fire within, which pushed me to endure life’s pitfalls to become someone fierce in life.”
Sanchez plans on transferring to Duke University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the fall with the hopes of one day entering medical school.
Among her many accomplishments, Sanchez is a Questbridge National Finalist College Match Scholar which earned her a full-ride scholarship to Duke, a Gates Millennium Scholar, and a College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar.
She has also received the South Texas College Presidential Honor Roll, Edinburg CISD Presidential Award, and was featured previously as a Student of the Week for KRGV, a local news station.
“From my mom getting cancer, to a life of financial worry, to always being the underdog when it came to my academics, I had to learn how to persevere through the toughest moments in life,” Sanchez said. “I never once thought that I would be president of multiple clubs, much less be the top-ranked student in my class. Serving the community has taught me that even if I have it tough, most people have it tougher. And that no matter what, I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Sanchez was among the 1,463 dual enrollment students, out of 3,156 total graduates, to receive certificates or degrees during STC’s 2023 commencement ceremonies.