San Jac certified: It’s twice as nice for 2 sets of twins who earn 2 diplomas
06.03.2014 | By Rob Vanya
San Jacinto College dual credit students (from left) Saige and Shianne Willingham; Travis and Trevor Blackwood learned that taking college and high school courses concurrently is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
Willingham sisters, Blackwood brothers excel as dual credit grads
Talk about double time.
Two sets of twins recently earned two diplomas as dual credit students at San Jacinto College and Crosby High School.
The similarities of the twins – Saige and Shianne Willingham; Travis and Trevor Blackwood – are striking. All four of the students finished in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class of 2014, and all four were highly engaged in the San Jacinto College dual credit MECA program (Modified Early College Academy). The Willingham sisters plan to continue higher education together, as dorm-mates at the University of Houston (UH). In like manner, the Blackwood brothers will room together as students at Texas A&M University.
The Willingham sisters are fraternal twins, born on March 30, 1996. Shianne, born one minute before Saige, is the “elder” sister. The Blackwood brothers are also fraternal twins, born on March 23, 1996. Travis, born two minutes before Trevor, is the “elder” brother. All four of the twins understand the value of education and know that to succeed professionally requires sacrifice, diligence, discipline, and hard work.
They have a good head start. As dual credit students at San Jacinto College, they earned high school diplomas and general studies college associate degrees concurrently, which means they will enter university as juniors at the age of 18. They admit that taking college courses while attending high school was difficult and challenging, but also rewarding.
“Perhaps the hardest part was time management,” commented Saige. “We had to get up at 6 a.m. in order to make it on time for classes at the College, and then return later each day for classes at the high school. After a while, I had to give up soccer because there were just too many things to juggle. And I really like soccer, but in the end the hard work and sacrifices will pay off.”
Now that she has her associate degree from San Jacinto College, Saige plans to attend UH and then the University of Texas to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, with a career goal of working as an anesthesiologist. Sister Shianne plans to earn a bachelor’s degree and possibly a master’s in petroleum engineering from UH. “I am attracted to petroleum engineering because it’s a high demand field, and offers a very good salary,” Shianne commented. “Also, I really want to travel and see the world, and travel is frequently a part of a petroleum engineer’s job requirement.”
The Blackwood twins will both attend Texas A&M, but will pursue different career paths. Travis plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in news broadcasting, with a goal of becoming a television news or sports anchor. Trevor plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, en route to pursuing a career as either a mechanical or petroleum engineer.
All four of the high school/college graduates talked about how important it is for young people to apply themselves to setting and completing educational goals. “It took discipline to finish as a dual credit student, but I see it as an investment in the future,” Shianne commented. “A young person might get lucky and be successful without a high school or college diploma, but it’s not very likely. Our granddad regrets not earning a college degree, and he always stresses the value of education. That motivates Saige and me to stay with it.”
Travis has a practical view. “You have to make a living somehow, and a minimum wage job is not much of a living wage,” he said. “A young person without a college degree ought to at least get some sort of training in a skilled trade. Either that, or hope to get a job in a plant, but a lot of the plants are now requiring at least some college education.”
Jennifer Mowdy, the San Jacinto College North Campus dual credit director, said the brothers and sisters exemplify the benefits dual credit education offers to qualifying students. “Both sets of twins were great to work with because they took complete advantage of all opportunities offered at San Jacinto College,” she commented. “They never hesitated to contact me with concerns or questions they had, and were always open to help me with events, especially when I was giving MECA presentations. They enjoyed speaking to current and incoming students about MECA, because they were devoted to its purpose and wanted others to have the same experience and opportunities they did.”
San Jacinto College offers a range of dual credit programs at all three campuses. Additionally, all three San Jacinto College campuses operate early college high schools that offer a head start in higher education for qualifying high school students.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College. For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SanJacintoCollege.