Thursday, May 26, 2016

First to Graduate, First to College for WAIS Senior

You might forgive Nancy Uroza if she hadn’t finished high school, or if she wasn’t going on to college to study business.

After all, the Westchester Academy of International Studies senior is the oldest of seven children, a caregiver who helps her landscaper father and stay-at-home mother – neither of whom finished high school – with her younger siblings.

And like many immigrant families, Uroza moved around quite a bit in her early years, when her family lived in Cy-Fair ISD.

But that would be selling Nancy Uroza short – way short. Nancy Uroza will be the first in her family to graduate from high school and the first to go to college. And not only graduate from high school, but to graduate with a bilingual International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. Twelfth grade counselor Beverly Martin puts that piece into perspective – “It’s the hardest one,” she said. “The language piece is like taking it in that country.”

Uroza, 18, said that coming to WAIS in sixth grade gave her stability that she hadn’t had before.

“I like it here,” she said. “We moved around a lot in Cy-Fair and staying here was stable for me.”

She said that WAIS, one of Spring Branch ISD’s choice schools, was a ‘calm’ school. “I don’t see any bullying or drugs or anything like that,” Uroza said. “And even though we don’t have sports we do have school spirit,” noting pep rallies around things like teacher appreciation.

She said that she’s been more involved in school activities during her Upper School years than in Middle School. She’s led both the Spanish Honor Society and the French Honor Society and is a member of the National Honor Society.

And she’s proud of her IB diploma as well.

“I like it – I think,” she said, laughing. “I definitely got an idea of what college classes are like.”

Uroza and two sisters who are close to her in age and who also attend WAIS help out with younger siblings – a seventh-grader at KIPP Courage, a fourth-grader and second-grader at Edgewood Elementary, and a one-year-old at home.

She plans to first attend the University of Houston-Downtown then transfer to Houston Baptist University and study business administration. She’s not exactly sure what she wants to do after that.

“Maybe I’ll open a family company, something horticultural, in honor of my dad,” she said. Or maybe a shoe company – “I love shoes,” she said – and donate some of the profits to a service organization.

“I love helping people,” she said. “Maybe I’ll form a non-profit.”

Rusty Graham


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