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3/8/2017 | TACOMA, Washington
Alec Pallasigui came back to his alma mater, Mount Tahoma High School, last Friday, to congratulate a group of his fellow T-Birds for taking the first steps on a college path he has nearly finished.
“I came from Guam, and I’m the second generation of my family to go to college, but the first generation in this country,” he told the assembled students. “In retrospect, high school was the easiest time of my life. There are plenty of nights I stay up to four in the morning, working on assignments. There is no easy route. But keep pushing.”
Pallasigui, currently in his fourth year at the University of Washington-Tacoma, graduated from high school in 2013, and enrolled in college through the Pathways to Promise program. Overall, 123 Tacoma seniors from the class of 2017 gained admission to the UW Tacoma through the program this year. Thirty-nine Mount Tahoma seniors were recognized on Friday—the highest tally of any high school in the district. Stadium was second with 22, Lincoln third with 21, followed by Wilson (18), Foss (12), SAMI (8) and SOTA (3).
Pathways to Promise started as a partnership in 2013 between UW Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools, and later spread to neighboring school districts including Puyallup, Federal Way, Franklin Pierce and Bethel. Students receive automatic admission if they meet minimum course requirements, have a GPA of 2.7 or higher, score a 480 or higher on each section of the SAT or 21 or higher on the ACT, submit a well-written personal statement and enroll at UW Tacoma immediately following their senior year.
Tacoma Public Schools Career and Technical Education Director John Page apologized for being a Washington State Cougar, before saluting the students for their achievements. Page offered the caveat, however, that the truly hard work lies ahead.
“This is a game-changer,” Page said. “I want to see you on the other side of this, four years from now, when you’re walking across that other (graduation) stage, to see what you’re going to bring back to this community. You’ve got room to grow. The responsibility of being a college graduate in this country is to make the world a better place for other people.”
UW-Tacoma Director of Student Transitions Amanda Figueroa pointed out the distinction students entering college face—taking over their own destiny. Parents, the school system and other authority figures don’t control the educational path of college students, Figueroa said—now it’s all up to the student.
“This is about you knowing who you are, and finding out where you will thrive,” she said. “Here in Tacoma, you have a whole city behind you that wants you to succeed.”
Brandon Ervin, head of College & Career Readiness for TPS, gave the students a mission, before the group adjourned to Mount Tahoma’s career center for a celebration with a Husky-themed cake.
“You have so much more work to do,” Ervin said. “We look forward to you coming back to this community and serving.”
Mount Tahoma students admitted to UW-Tacoma through Pathways to Promise:
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...
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