• 2020 March Student of the Month


    Academy of Engineering

    Julian Yepman 


    I have known since I was young that I would like to attend some kind of engineering class during high school. I enjoyed taking things apart when I was young.  I have also always been intrigued by buildings and bridges as well as cars and rockets. I always liked hands on learning and the Engineering Academy at University High School gave me that opportunity. I know that what I learned from the engineering teachers will benefit my life in the long run. I learned how to be safe when working.  I learned that it is ok to fail many times when it leads to ultimate success.

    When I graduate high school, I am going into college for electrical engineering. I will pursue an associate degree. I am hoping to make a career in electrical work in some capacity.  I’ve always been amazed about how electricity works and how it is used in almost everything we use, from the phones in our pockets to the cars we drive. Because of the things I’ve learned in the Academy of Engineering, I’m excited about my future and I look forward to using the knowledge I’ve gained to better my life.


    2020 March Student of the Month


    Academy of Robotics & Electronics (GWAMA)

    David Crane 


    Entering GWAMA has changed my life for the better. I used to be a problem child in middle school and that carried over into high school. Starting my sophomore year at GWAMA, I was a follower and the behavior from previous years began to show. After the distraction got removed from my class, I began to grow. I got a feel of the things I liked and wanted to do so I challenged myself to do better. In doing so, I started maturing and becoming more active in school. GWAMA, is a place for kids who want to go straight to work after high school. Or give them an opportunity to take dual credit courses making it easier to earn your associate's degree while earning your high school diploma. GWAMA has taught me many skills, from being in a workplace, business professional and or business casual to straight dirty work. This helps us prepare for our Mock interviews that GWAMA hosts. I’ve also learned leadership skills. I received an internship through GWAMA when I was entering my senior year and that opened a door to a field I never expected to be intrigued in. Working and teaching the kids from my internship help build another path that I could walk down later on in life. I couldn't have experienced that if I was still the same kid with behavior problems. The leadership has stuck with me throughout the years, making me the face of both of my schools and having my peers and younger students look up to me. GWAMA doesn’t just stop there, it gets better. When you choose an academy you are not stuck in it. I was able to stick a foot in each academy just to see which one I would prefer. They work with you, groom you, and sculpt you to be better than what you are but also be better than themselves as well. Brighter Future, that's my GWAMA. 


    2020 March Student of the Month


    Academy of Welding (GWAMA)

    Christopher Cortes 


    My name is Christopher Cortes. I'm a senior at University high school and I am a third year here at GWAMA in the welding academy. I just want to thank GWAMA for giving me the opportunity to receive this award. GWAMA has changed my life for a lot of reasons. It’s helped me to keep doing what I like. When I was younger I was always in my grandpa’s shop and I would help him with anything he needed.  My grandpa, who worked at Clayton Homes, gave me my start by working with him in his shop. I was also influenced by my friend’s grandpa who was a welder. I enjoyed working with my hands and found great pleasure being in a shop. These days, a dream sparked in me to be a welder, and work with fire and electricity to build whatever I wanted.

    My freshman year we had a speaker come in to talk to us about the welding program, I jumped on that opportunity! It was an eye opening experience for me. I have honestly learned so much since I’ve walked through the doors of GWAMA. The first year was tough for me because there was a lot of bookwork, but it was so worth it! I worked hard to earn four AWS certifications. These are tests that welders have to take before they can weld for any major companies. After lots, and I mean lots of practice, I was able to start passing these weld tests.

    In my first class with Mr. Vargas, we welded with 6010. This type of welding electrode is difficult to master, I knew it would be a lot of practice before I achieved the perfection I was chasing. I'm so glad I've taken these classes, I now have an understanding of blue prints, know how to weld, measure, and cut different materials. I've also worked on a lot of different fabrication skills along the way, even making a metal rose. I was able to use everything I learned to make something I'm very proud of.

    I also have competed in welding competitions. I won third place in pipe welding competition and first place in underwater welding challenge. It was such a great experience, it gave me the opportunity to go to the Oceaneering facility and compete for a scholarship for underwater welding; I’ll put on a diver suit/gear an weld against other high school seniors. Thank you GWAMA!

    2020 February Student of the Month


    Academy of Education & Training


    Gabby Taylor 



    An Educator is a person who provides instruction or education; a teacher. As long as I can remember I have wanted to become an educator, maybe, because I was influenced by my mother being an educator. As soon as I entered the Academy of Education and Training my freshmen year, I knew I had chosen the right path!

    My freshmen year began with the course Human Growth and Development. I learned about the life span from conception to death. I could not grasp why this class was so important for a teacher, but looking back, without this class, I would not be able to understand about the different types of development of specific age groups.  After my freshmen year I was intrigued with the academy I had chosen and was looking forward to the upcoming classes in my pathway. My junior year was, by far, packed with the best experiences in Instructional Practices in Education and Training, which is the third class in our pathway. Throughout the year I received firsthand experience in a functioning classroom with Trojan Tykes; a PreK lab at University High School.  We were able to plan and implement lessons using data that our PreK teacher gave to us for this process.  We knew how to scaffold our lessons (up and down) and could watch our little Trojan Tykes growth!   It broke my heart when Waco ISD shut down such an amazing learning opportunity for the students in our academy.   We also travel to other schools for our field-based experiences such as South Waco Elementary, Kendrick Elementary, and Lake Air Montessori.  Although it took some time getting comfortable in the classrooms, I grew to be more confident with helping the students more than observing.  Now I know what I will be getting into pursuing my career as an educator.  

    Fast forward to my senior year and I am currently taking Practicum in Education, the last class in my pathway and I could not be happier, but a bit sad. I have had a great four years learning many skills along the way both beneficial to my career choice and my personal life. Before taking any of these classes I was a shy person never imagining that I would be doing any of the things I have been doing these past four years. I have grown to be a very outspoken and confident young lady in everything I do and I put forth my best effort. I am very grateful that University has this program because it encouraged me to belong to our CTSO which is TAFE.  I am proud to say that I am now the President of our club (Texas Association of Future Educators) and will be competing at State competition for the second year in a row!  The Academy of Education and Training is a great way to recruit future teachers to come teach in Waco ISD.

    After high school, I plan to further my career in education by attending the University of North Texas in the Fall of 2020.  I highly recommend the Academy of Education and Training to all students who aspire to be educators or even are lost as to what they want to be.  I look forward to coming back to Waco ISD in four years and having my own classroom.  Who knows, I may be lucky enough to mentor an Academy in Education and Training student in my classroom!

    2020 January Student of the Month


    Ron E Smith Academy of Business and Finance


    Ivette Padron



    I chose the Business and Finance Academy with the intention of owning my own business. Though my career choice has changed, the knowledge and experience I have gained through this academy will not go to waste. This academy has taught me all about effective communication, professionalism, and organization. I was able to obtain these skills through experiences both in and out of the classroom. This academy has provided me with several opportunities in which I have gotten to network with people and practice what I have learned. One of these opportunities has been the tax program. The tax program has given me the opportunity to not only practice numeracy, but also create connections with the variety of people that come through our doors. The tax program is only one of the several great opportunities this academy has provided me with to develop the many skills that will benefit me in my future.

    2020 January Student of the Month


    Academy of Architecture and Construction (GWAMA)


    Jose Gomez



    My name is Jose Gomez and I am in 10th grade at University High School. I go to GWAMA and am in Architecture. I chose to go to GWAMA because there we learn about the workforce, they teach you how to use tools and equipment, and we get hands on experience with them. I chose to be in architecture because architecture is all about creativity and designing what you feel looks good. I started out in engineering at University because in engineering, you solve problems by creating designs and using your creativity to create a solution. After freshman, I went to GWAMA after I heard they had architecture because architecture is something o really wanted to do. In architecture, we design and sketch houses the way we want to. I wanted to be here after my house was remodeled and it interested me ever since. What we do is that we work on a sketchbook and on the computer. We design the exterior, interiors, and electrical plans. After college, I would like to become an architect or a contractor and design people’s houses.

    2019 December Student of the Month


    Academy of Law and Criminal Justice

    Lisa Rios Corral


               Whenever I look back to when I was younger, I could never see myself as an outgoing or a confident person that I consider myself to be today. There are many reasons why I have evolved into a confident young woman. One of these is because of the academy pathway that I have chosen to be in at University High School.  When I walked into my first law and criminal justice class my freshman year, not only did I know very little if anything at all, but I was also shy and unsure of my abilities. You could even say that I was a bit intimidated. I have always wanted to be part of law enforcement, whether it was being a police officer, a lawyer, or even a crime scene investigator. Nevertheless, my academy has educated me in many positive ways to help me become a better student with an understanding of what I want to study in college and what future career I choose for myself. As a little girl you tend to just go with the flow and do as told by the older generation. It was impressed upon me that women cannot do this or cannot do that because it is a “man’s job” and a job in law enforcement is an example where that phrase was used a lot. Throughout my four years in the Academy of Law and Criminal Justice at University High School, I learned that no matter what anyone says, a woman can be just as successful as any man in any type of career she desires to pursue. Everything I learned in my academy classes has definitely shown me all the hard work that police officers and lawyers have to go through to be successful whether it is solving a case or writing a simple traffic ticket. Through my academy I have been able to step out of my comfort zone and discover new things about myself that I never knew until now. Some of those things are public speaking, debate, creative thinking, and solving crime scenarios by connecting the clues. I have also learned that girls in this field are underestimated a lot more than they should be. This means nothing to me as I now can hold my head up high and tell anyone that I can do exactly the same things others do and sometimes even better than they can even in the field I have chosen. It is important for me to be able to help other girls realize that they can do anything they set their minds to without the approval of any man. My academy classes have empowered many students in big ways and, it has also benefited me in the same ways as well. An example of this is when I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk with lawyers and diplomats in Washington, D.C. and visit the U.S. Supreme Court, places where I hope to make a difference one day. I believe that people change people, and with all the information that I learned from my chosen academy throughout the years, I know I can help others with what they want to do and help them become a better version of themselves not only in the field of criminal justice, but also in the career fields of their own desires.



    2019 November Student of the Month


    Academy of Arts, AV and Communication

    Daniel Benavides


    My name is Daniel Benavides, and I am a senior in the Academy of Arts, Audio Visual Technology, and Communications at University High School. I have been taking graphics courses since my freshman year in high school. The program is great for creative students who want to create logos, designs, etc. My interest in becoming part of this academy began in middle school when I received information from my middle school counselors.

    When I began taking the courses and completing assignments, my interest in audio and visual tech was solidified. My first year in Mr. Taverner’s Principles of Arts, AV, Technology, and Communication class, I learned the basics of working in programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Then I went into Ms. Cunningham’s Graphic Design I and II, and currently I am in III. She has helped me build up my portfolio, create various designs, and attain certification in multiple Adobe programs.

    Being in this academy has taught me how to work with other people. For example, Ms. Cunningham has school staff request designs and logos that they need to be made. I interact with the staff as if they were clients because as a graphic designer, you need to create something that meets the client’s requirements. My confidence in interacting with adults grew, and I began to contact local companies in the Waco area and throughout Texas to see if they needed any graphic design work done. Later I began entering contests to compete against other designers, knowing that I had learned many skills in my graphic design courses at school. I became a leader by creating designs on my own, and by getting the courage to make connections with people in the community to create work for them. In addition, I have used my graphic design and communication skills by creating shirt designs for several school organizations including Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Forensic Science Club, National Honor Society (NHS), and the Rocketry class.

    After high school, I plan to further my career in graphic design since I have discovered my passion for creating designs, working with Adobe programs, and making people satisfied with an original product. I encourage students to join the Academy of Arts, Audio Visual Technology, and Communications because you get many real world experiences as a designer through the courses you take. I want to thank University High School for providing the program and to my past and current teachers who have helped me become the designer I am today.

    2019 October Student of the Month


    Academy of Health Science (GWAHCA)

    Sherell Atkins


    What does it mean to work in the healthcare field? Or to be a student in the healthcare field?

    Healthcare has been a passion of mine since the third grade. My aunt inspired to want to join the medical field when I was able to join her at her retiring party three years ago. It was an amazing experience and it made me make my choice as to what I wanted to do in the nursing field.

    To be a student in the medical field is accomplishing on my behalf because not everyone is able to experience the events and actions that I have in the past two years of my high school term. Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy (GWAHCA) has given others and myself a great medical experience; they give us the chance to prove how much we have learned at the end of each school term. I am even more appreciative that we are given the chance to prove our teachers hard work and ourselves through our state test for the CNA certificate. While also proving how much we know throughout the year when we do our clinical hours at the long term care facilities. Though in the term, there were some bad days, I managed to push through because not every day was a bad day. I’ve had greater days because once I got to see the smiling faces of residents it just lightens up your day because not every day does one get a visitor. It made me smile knowing that they were all still accounted for when we came from our breaks. The experience that I get in the GWAHCA program I’m grateful to have experienced.

    I’ve had a great time from the clinical days to the start of hospital rotations. I get the observation of nurses in their everyday work field which in enjoyable. Recently I’ve got the chance to follow a PCT around at the hospital which was great because she showed me how to chart on the computer and I got to do vital signs on patients being discharged as well as ones who we still in the hospital for their own medical reasons. To be a student with these experiences is great because I’ve gotten a head start that many others have said they didn’t get to experience until they got in college. By far the best experience that we’ve all had I think is taking the state test and seeing our teachers reaction because it showed that not only did we have the great help from them, we had help from ourselves because all the teachers did was teach us and show us the routine we had to follow on a daily visit to the facilities. It was up to us whether or not we actually want the certificate for ourselves. Therefore, I feel that if we got it in the end, it shows how much you actually wanted the accomplishment for yourself. For that and the events I have yet to see through the GWAHCA program I’m ready and willing to do what  it takes to prove to myself that I can do the unthinkable. For these accomplishments I’m grateful to be a GWAHCA student

    2019 September Student of the Month

    September 3029

    Academy of Automotive Technology

    Angel Ortiz


           My name is Angel Ortiz; I have been chosen to be the CTE student of the month. I am in the automotive program, this program is a program that can really help someone out later in life. How you may ask? This program can help you save hundreds of dollars just by knowing little things like changing oil and how to diagnose problems, on the other side it can also make you get big sums of money for doing one small job like an alignment.

            This is a program I got into to help me know more about vehicles so every time something happens I won’t have to take it to a mechanic. Do I plan on making this my career, well I don’t really know about it being my main one. I will for sure go to college for this though to have it like a side hobby because I really love working on cars. I do plan on having my own little shop when I’m like in my older years, working on cars is something I always want to be involved in

              I am a senior at University High school and for college I plan to go to TSTC. My plan is to go there and learn about cars and also to be a technician, I want a degree from those two fields. When I finish I know that those two careers will really be beneficial in my life especially since there is a lot of money to be made especially in the automotive field.

                Besides the money and all that Automotive has been very beneficial to me it has taught me to be more independent, to solve problems myself and it is a great program for me because I am a hands on person and this is what the program offers and that’s hands on work. Just because this academy is hands on and you do have to figure out things at times doesn’t mean your all alone this program has a great teacher who really loves what he is doing, Garry my teacher is always there for when a question needs to be asked he will always check up on everyone and even though we do a lot of work on our own we have him to look after us to make sure everything gets done correctly for anyone who considers to get in this program you should it’s a great field that you will be using in the real world. A little side note what’s great about this class is that Garry isn’t just our teacher he is like a friend to everyone he always helps us with our problems and always gives us advice about how the real world is so 10 out 10 I would recommend this class to anyone.