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Texas Academy of International and STEM Studies Graduate First to Earn TAMIU Bachelor’s Degree Posted: 1/29/18

Texas Academy of International and STEM Studies Graduate First to Earn TAMIU Bachelor’s Degree


Analyssa Ayala

Analyssa Ayala is years ahead of her peers in terms of academic achievement.

Ayala, 19, was in the first cohort of students to graduate from Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) Texas Academy of International and STEM Studies…and also the first graduate from the Texas Academy to earn a bachelor’s degree from TAMIU in December.

Ayala earned a degree in Psychology from TAMIU, and said attending the Texas Academy was beneficial to her as she was able to save on tuition costs while accelerating her bachelor’s degree attainment.

“In addition to saving money, another benefit to attending the Texas Academy is the experiences the school provides,” she said, “You can participate in all the extracurricular activities TAMIU offers, do research with amazing professors, and Study Abroad.”

The TAMIU Texas Academy of International and STEM Studies is a unique and progressive program which offers high school students a chance to enroll in University-level courses while completing their last two years of high school. Texas Academy offers free tuition, fees, books and a supportive staff to help guide students thorough the college process.

Academy students also explore research and collaborative educational opportunities with project partners including the University of Texas Health Science Center of San Antonio’s (UTHSCSA) Laredo campus. They participate fully in the life of TAMIU with gifted faculty in state of the art facilities, and their University credits transfer to any public university in the state of Texas.

Most importantly, upon completion of two years in the Academy, students have earned their high school diploma concurrently with college credits toward a Bachelor’s degree, and are in their junior year of University.

Armed with her bachelor’s degree, Ayala said she is now applying to various graduate schools to pursue a future in Counseling Psychology and to become a licensed professional counselor

“With this license, I am going to pursue my life-long goal of opening my own counseling practice,” she said.

Ayala said she first heard about the Academy from her high school English teacher.

“After many weeks of considerations and an approaching deadline, I decided to apply and attend the Texas Academy because I was going to accelerate my education goals and it would be a cost savings for my parents,” she said.

She said she kept herself motivated as a student by remembering the reasons why she started her University life early.

“One of those main reasons was wanting to make myself and others around me proud,” she said, “At times of tribulations and despair, when all I wanted to do was to quit, I would remind myself that I was capable and that others around me knew I was capable, too.”

TAMIU provided her a with a solid support system and resources such as the Tutoring Center, the Writing Center, the Sky Lab and many student clubs and organizations, Ayala said.

“They (TAMIU) made sure my goals were met by giving me guidance and words of affirmation when I needed them the most,” she said.

She continued, “TAMIU has transformed me as a person by making me a responsible and mature adult. Since I started college at such a young age, I had to leave the high school mentality aside. The Texas Academy allowed me to develop the right habits of mind and molded me into a responsible individual in order for me to do well in my studies.”

Another benefit the Academy provided her was to be able to finish her undergraduate studies early, Ayala said.

“You cannot put a price on saving time,” she said, “While other students my age are still in their sophomore year of college, I am finished and can start graduate school sooner, which leads me to starting my career sooner.”

Ayala said that being the first graduate from the Academy to graduate from TAMIU is a surreal feeling.

“It feels like it was just yesterday when I was figuring out how to transition from a high school student to a college student,” she said, “I am now dealing with the reality that my undergraduate years are over. I also feel very proud. There were many moments when I wanted to give up and take some time off, but I never lost sight of my goals and dreams.”

The Academy is hosting its next information session for students and parents of high school sophomores Thursday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, room 101. There is no fee to attend the information session.

Enabled by legislation authored by State Senator Judith Zaffirini and approved by the 79th Texas Legislature in 2005, the Academy admitted its first students in 2014.  It has received generous financial support from Laredo philanthropist Frank Staggs.

For more information about the Texas Academy, contact Dr. Patricia Uribe, Academy director and superintendent of the TAMIU Independent School District at 956.326.2860, email or visit

University office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.