Luis Nino loved to play football. But when he was given a choice between the game he had played since he was a child or a college education, he chose his education.
The decision wasn’t an easy one for Nino, who was a junior in high school when to hung up his pads.
“Every kids dream of playing high school football was to get a scholarship and the play at the next level,” he said. “But in junior year I decided to pursue what’s right for me.”
Nino will graduate from Alvin Community College with an Associate Degree in May. He delivered the invocation for the Spring 2020 Commencement, which was the first virtual ceremony in the college’s history.
Nino said he was inspired to start the Dual Degree program after watching his fellow students graduate from ACC two weeks before high school in 2018.
“Witnessing that changed my whole perspective of going to high school, because I didn't want to be part of the majority to just get a diploma,” he said. “I wanted more. I wanted to be someone who achieved something more in their high school years.”
So Nino spoke with Dual Enrollment advisor Monica Silvas about taking college courses while he was still in high school.
As a student he had a great attitude and was motivated to excel academically, said Monica Silvas, Dual Enrollment advisor.
“Luis is a wonderful student that always has a smile on his face,” she said. “He is a hard-working person who always makes sure to keep his goals in mind. I am excited to see him succeed.”
History instructor Cheri Vansant said Nino was a dedicated student who had the work ethic needed to succeed in college-level courses.
“Students can be smart and think critically and pass all the pre-qualifying tests, but if they don’t have that collegiate mindset, it can be tough,” VanSant said. “Luis definitely exhibited that quality. He worked hard and maintained a positive and cheerful outlook on life and education. He was engaged and cared about the quality of his work. I wish him all the best.”
Nino’s new goal of pursuing an education over playing football was daunting though the experience was far more rewarding, he said.
“Getting my Dual Degree was challenging but being able to plan ahead and organize made it easier,” he said. “There was certain classes that were difficult to complete but the whole process was fun. I also met a lot of new friends who was I fortunate to meet from various high schools. The experience would not have been as complete without them.”
His two older sisters received a college education which motivated him to leave football behind to do the same.
“Seeing them do marvelous things with their education opened my eyes to the fact that the standard was set higher for me,” Nino said. “That is a huge motivation for me.”
As a student, Nino was named a 2020 Traditional Terry Scholar and he will be enrolling at the University of Texas-San Antonio to complete his Bachelor’s Degree with a full scholarship.
“This scholarship is awarded to high school seniors who are recognized for academic achievement, demonstrated strong leadership , high character, and who are willing to help their community,” he said. “Since I am already ahead the game with my Dual Degree I have many credit hours than most incoming freshman.”
Nino plans to major in both Finance and Economics in hopes of pursuing a career as a risk investment analyst.
Nino wants to use his education and career to give back to his community.
“Throughout my whole childhood my family has made numerous sacrifices and I always wanted to give back to them,” he said. “My parents are from Mexico and seeing them come to the U.S. for a better future became an inspiration for me.”
While he wasn’t able to walk across the stage in a Commencement ceremony like the one that inspired him two years ago, Nino said his education is something he will always treasure.
“I will be always grateful to experience this opportunity ACC gave me as a student,” he said. “It is sad to not walk with the graduates this spring but I feel like the experience alone of meeting great professors and meeting new friends made me see that I received more than a degree from this experience.”