Wednesday, June 15, 2011

International Baccalaureate program inspires grads

Westchester Academy graduates Tzitziki Robles and Oscar Lopez might prove that the International Baccalaureate bilingual program at this district charter school can lead to admissions at some highly regarded colleges. Read where these graduates are headed next.   

Tzitziki Robles
Westchester Academy graduate Tzitziki Robles never expected an email to change her life. But, in the blink of an eye, an acceptance email from Brown University threw her life into its next gear. 

Come this fall, Tzitziki will pursue a bachelor’s degree in either chemistry or anthropology at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

Tzitziki, whose parents are both originally from Mexico, is the first in her family to attend a post-secondary institution. “My parents would’ve loved for me to attend U of H, or something close to home. I know it’s going to be hard living so far away, but I’m excited! They really are proud of me, and will make the distance adjustment eventually,” she said.

Eighth in her class, Tzitziki has busied herself in a variety of ways. She plays flute in Iglesia Bautista Libertad’s youth orchestra, and has been a member of Mu Alpha Theta (math club), the Director’s Advisory Council, Interact Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Model United Nations, and Houston’s Management Leadership for Tomorrow Council.

She is graduating from Westchester as an International Baccalaureate Bilingual Diploma candidate, a high honor.

“The hardest part of high school, for me, was balancing all the different things I had going on at once. It got really stressful at times, but was ultimately one of the most fun times of my life. I know Brown will be everything I hoped it would be – and more,” Tzitziki said.

In addition to her many extracurricular activities, Tzitziki also volunteered at Houston’s SPCA and Food Bank. She was also awarded an appreciation certificate from the Consulate General of Pakistan for her work with Westchester’s National Honor Society chapter.

Tzitziki is an Advanced Placement Scholar and she was on her campus’s honor roll throughout her high school career.

This year, Tzitziki has been awarded the Pan American Round Table of Houston Scholarship, valued at $1,000; the Spring Branch Education Foundation Scholarship, $1,500; the Spring Branch Education Support Association Scholarship, $850; the Baker-Telfer Scholarship, $1,000; the Rotary Club of Houston Scholarship, $2,500; and the Westchester Alumni Association Scholarship, $1,000. 

But her biggest award is the Brown University Scholarship, valued at $47,700.

Oscar Lopez
Very few students get the chance to hear their voice through the radio waves. But for 2011 Westchester Academy graduate Oscar Lopez, it’s just another day in the office

For years now, Oscar has helped run the Houston chapter of an international Catholic talk radio station entitled “Radio Maria.” What started as grunt intern work quickly blossomed into a potential career that Oscar found increasingly appealing over time. 

For the past year, Oscar has managed his own show, “Juventud con Maria,” which focuses on teenagers maintaining their Catholic beliefs while enjoying their teenage years.

“The radio show helped mold me into the person I’ve become. Because of my show, I now know that I definitely want to pursue a career in business communications. Hopefully, I’ll own a handful of my own radio stations some day,” Oscar said.

In fact, come mid-June, Oscar will start summer classes at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School. Due to deadline inconsistencies, Oscar’s spot within the university’s enrollment was pushed forward, forcing him to start college sooner than he’d expected. 

However, he feels he is “up for the challenge. I’ve spent a lot of time working hard, volunteering, studying, and trying to maintain some sort of social life. College will more than likely be just like that but on a larger, more mature scale,” Oscar said.

Throughout high school, Oscar has accumulated nearly 500 hours of community service between church, extracurricular activities, school-sponsored clubs, and the radio station. 

He is a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (Math Club), the weightlifting club, and St. Cecelia’s Lifeteen youth group where he performed various church and club services each week. He also achieved a rare accomplishment for high school seniors: perfect attendance and no tardies.

Oscar is also an International Baccalaureate Bilingual Diploma candidate. He always pushed himself to do his best, despite the rigorous workload his courses required. Both of his parents received degrees in their respective fields from universities in Mexico, so they always provided the extra push Oscar needed to see his studies through.

“My parents are happy that I’m staying close to home. We all feel like A&M is just far enough away for everyone to remain comfortable. But I will miss my family—not only the one at home, but my Westchester family as well. That is what we have truly become, and I never would’ve wanted to graduate from anywhere else,” Oscar said.

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