Category: Profiles

$137,000: Carter Senior Signed as UTRGV Luminary Scholar

Frida Beltran, a senior at Jimmy Carter Early College High School, signed her intent to attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as a Luminary Scholarship recipient beginning in fall 2022.

Scholarship signing.

            UTRGV awarded Frida the prestigious UTRGV Luminary Scholarship, which offers the brightest incoming first-year college students from all disciplines a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in an unparalleled learning environment.  The scholarship is valued at $137,000, defraying the Bachelor’s degree tuition, room and board, and Medical School. 

Frida thanks her parents but specifically her mother, for encouraging her to live to her fullest potential. She also thanks all of her teachers from Jimmy Carter ECHS to Camarena Elementary for helping her become the student and individual she is today. 

            The Luminary Scholars program received over 500 applications for the Luminary Scholarship, and Frida was one of the twenty-five students awarded.

            Having completed her UTRGV application and enrolling with the UTRGV scholarship portal, Frida remembers receiving repeated emails asking her to apply for the Luminary Scholarship—she realized she met the requirements and submitted her.

            “It takes a student committed to themselves and their education to make a mark on their community, and when I think of Friday, I see that. She has demonstrated that attention, commitment, and academic integrity make a difference in how students succeed. She exemplifies what being part of the RedWolves family and La Joya ISD is truly all about,” Professional Communication instructor Ivan Silva said.

            Finalists were invited to a reception at UTRGV, during which they participated in a face-to-face interview as a part of the final stage of the scholarship selection process. Although nervous, Frida was steadfast and navigated the moment with the respect, integrity, and excellence she learned from being a RedWolves student. 

In April, Frida shared in during her dual enrollment Biology class that she received the Luminary scholarship. The moment was met with celebration from both her classmates and teachers. Carter administration stopped in to congratulate her and mark the momentous occasion as another moment of PRIDE for our campus’ legacy. 

Frida is an exemplary Carter student; she graduated with her Associate in Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College on May 6 and 60 college hours. Frida also received the prestigious College Board recognition of National Hispanic Merit Scholar under the National Hispanic Recognition Program; she scored a composite of 30 on her ACT. 

Frida believes that her accomplishments in high school helped in her being selected as a recipient of the Luminary scholarship.

Junior Explores Explorer Program

Winston Garza in a Junior Explorers t-shirt

Junior class president Winston Garza participates in a police explorer program with the La Joya ISD police department. The program is offered to students between the ages of 14 to 21, and it teaches them basic information about the law and law enforcement.
“I want to be in law enforcement after high school and college,” Garza said, “so what better way than experience what law enforcement officers do daily right there with them?”
The program does fit in with Garza’s school and work schedule. Although one of the cons that come with it is still how long some of the meetings could take. Which still “isn’t that much [time].”
“I think it very much will be valuable in the future. Say I apply for a job at a local agency; I’ll have some knowledge other cadets might not have. It helps, and it’s also shown me there’s time for fun and time for work.”
With a month-long summer academy, participants receive training in traffic stops, felony traffic stops, writing citations, etc.
Last November and December, the police department worked on both a Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas drive.
“I would say the best thing were the ride alongs. I would say, however, 2nd place would be the events with the community, seeing the smiles on kids and families [faces]”, Garza continued,
The Police Explorer Program is a part of Learning for Life, a subsidiary of the Boys Scouts of America. To qualify, applicants must have graduated from 8th grade and must be between 14 and 21.
“If the field of law enforcement is something you want to do in the future, I encourage it. And, I hope you find as much joy, entertainment, privilege, knowledge, and honor in it as I do.”

RedWolves Advice: Dealing with academic stress

Students listening to a lecture Photo by: Ivan Silva

As the spring semester starts slow and shaky, the lure of mid-year exams and finals are still on people’s minds, not even to mention the added stress of other academic responsibilities. Whether that be UIL or just applying to different colleges and scholarships.

Junior class parliamentarian Dominique Brown is no stranger to this type of stress. Since around the second grade, she has been in UIL, only joining because coaches needed more people to participate in the spelling event. She decided to try out ready writing and journalism when she entered high school. “I’d say I’m pretty decent at it. There are things I can still improve on, but I still end up receiving 1st through 3rd place most of the time.” Brown said.

She says that while she will have to worry about writing college essays eventually, her experience from the events will help her format the papers properly. Writing those essays would become less complicated because she has already learned to make her writing fit well with each other. UIL meets naturally highly stressful. You have to sit in the same room with all the people who you’ll have to compete with. “The room is dead silent, so it’s you with all your thoughts, and it gets a little suffocating.”

To deal with this feeling, Brown says she’ll usually zone out and think about different books she has read in the past, thinking about whether she could use any of them as an example in her ready writing competition. During her journalism events, she’ll spend a little time staring at one specific word or sentence to see how she could change it to fit better with what she’s writing. But most importantly, she breathes calmly for a few minutes and then continues.

“I do feel like if I don’t do as good as I normally do, then I’ll disappoint myself,” Brown continued. “I tend to compare myself to past me and to others around me, so whenever I think I don’t do as good as how I’ve done before, I shut down and ‘face’ the truth. But then the results come back, and it’s not as bad as I made it out to be.”

To encourage others not to give in to this mindset, she says she’d tell others that their mistakes will not be the end of the world.

“They tried their best, and at the end of the day, their coaches are still proud of them for trying. It doesn’t determine whether or not you’re a failure.”

Hard-working freshman student keeps busy with athletics

Student Jessica Anguiano stands with a free weight machine.

Freshman student Jessica Anguiano has always enjoyed different extracurricular activities for the past few years. She likes the way they make her look in the eyes of her teachers and how they will look on her future college applications. 

Anguiano participates in cheer, band, powerlifting, and track and field at La Joya Highschool. Each morning, she travels to the neighboring school to participate in the activities. Cheer and dance have been stressful but she continues with her efforts.

“Just working toward a shared vision with other people and that blood, sweat and tears go into it and this big turnout outcome.” She says that you just become proud of yourself after everything. 

“I just think it would give kids a certain purpose,” She says that she would encourage others to participate in extracurricular activities. “and happiness throughout the day to see their friends and work hard to something that they’re going to enjoy.”

The activities are not at all easy and are stressful. She says that sometimes it feels like she needs a break but knows that she won’t have them. 

“In the end, it looks good, but I also have so many memories that I’m going to look back and be like, “I’m glad I did this and this.”

Carolina Amador, a proud volunteer

Carolina Amador with a pumpkin she made for JCECH autumn decorations.

Carolina Amador is involved in countless communities despite personal responsibilities, deadlines, college, and high school courses. These include UIL, FBLA, the Leo Club, and volunteering at the nonprofit organization Cancer Kids First. 

Amador joined the student council because she wanted to help her peers voice their concerns or opinions. Cancer Kids First and the Leo’s Club allow her to help her community. She feels a sense of attachment to the clubs because they allowed her to receive help from others. She wants to be able to repay the favor to her community.

UIL and FBLA give her a chance to ‘unleash my competitive side’ academically. She says they let her relax and gain skills she knows she can use in the future.

“My absolute favorite part of the student council, Leo’s Club, and the Cancer Kids First organization is the fact that I get to help out others,” Amador said. “My favorite part about UIL and FBLA is the competitive rush that I get.”

She said that she would encourage others to consider joining these organizations.

“I would say to them that by being in these organizations, they will not only get to relish the fact that they will make positive changes to their environment, but they will also be able to have lots of fun!”


Teachers point of view

From a young age, Alicia Castan knew she wanted to become a student educator. Life led her into motherhood first, while raising her children introduced her to her classroom goals. 

Today Alica Castan is a teacher at The Care Academy at Jimmy Carter ECHS where she continues to live out the dream she has had since she was just a little girl.

“When I was growing up I really wanted to work with students at a campus. I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to teach students, it was my dream job. I see myself later on in the future working with students, I think it is one of my passions. I really don’t want to do anything else,” Castan said.

Catan’s lifelong dream has led her to become motivated about teaching, as she sees this being her only career in the future.

However, Castan’s plans weren’t to teach just any students. Her aspiration was to teach students with disabilities. Seeing her children grow up by her side, she wanted to do more and teach them everything and anything. Knowing students with disabilities have a harder time than other students, she knew the path to take to be able to help these students.

“I love my job, I enjoy working with special needs kids because they are sweet and nice students, they have so much potential,”

Castan said. Although it takes longer to teach students with disabilities, this is no problem for Castan.

“It is a great opportunity to learn how to be patient and teach them hand-in-hand,” Castan said.

Castan loves her students and the association she has acquired with them within the two years she has been teaching. Always wanting to teach students, Castan makes the most out of her experience as a teacher creating bonds with her students.

“It is really fun because they say so many things, they joke and do different things, and before you know it, you’re just laughing. I really enjoy working in this position,” Castan said.