By Reesha Brown
The Texas Migrant Program recently honored two Pasadena ISD graduates as exemplary students at the 2016 Association of Migrant Educators of Texas State Conference in South Padre.
Representing the South Houston High School Class of 2016, Gerardo Gonzalez and Matthew Mata are among 140 students across Texas to be chosen for this honor, recognizing migrant students who have overcome barriers while serving as positive role models in their school and community.
“Migrant students are severely underappreciated,” Gonzalez said. “Their trials and tribulations often go unnoticed, but it’s their struggles that make their success all the more impressive and admirable.”
Gonzalez earned a 5.23 grade point average and was ranked third in his class. He maintained all A’s in his advanced placement classes while working with his father.
Senior year, Gonzalez served as a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and debate team. He has been honored with several awards including the American Legion for Scholastic Excellence award, the Pasadena Noon Optimist Outstanding Citizenship award, Semper Donantes and he placed first in a couple of debate competitions. Gonzalez received a Pasadena ISD scholarship all four years of high school and he was voted most studious by classmates.
“Gerardo is an extraordinary man,” Alicia Zamora, AP Spanish and Literature teacher said. “As his teacher, I have seen many examples of his talent and have long been impressed by his diligence and work ethic…He has consistently demonstrated an ability to rise to any challenge that he must face.”
Mata achieved a 4.1 grade point average and excelled in advanced placement courses. He was involved in Academic Decathlon and was the leader of the scholastic team. Mata played double bass in the orchestra as a first chair and earned a superior rating at the state competition for his junior and senior years of high school. As captain of the swim team for several years, Mata also helped lead the SHHS swim team to regionals.
He was accepted to Houston Baptist University on a four-year $54,000 scholarship to study chemical engineering.
As a migrant student, Mata experienced many obstacles. His said his junior year of high school, “I had a lot of online homework that counted as a big part of my grade, but I did not have a working laptop and staying after school was challenging because of siblings.”
This did not stop him from reaching his life-long goals.
“Migrant students can achieve whatever they put their mind to as long as they have the passion and determination, they can break through any obstacle that has been thrown their way to success,” Mata said.
A special project of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Migrant Interstate Program (TMIP) facilitates intra- and interstate coordination in order to help meet the educational needs of migrant children from Texas who migrate out of state.