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Triumph Over Adversity: A PSJA ISD Senior’s Inspiring Journey Through PSJA ISD's Early College Program 

Triumph Over Adversity: A PSJA ISD Senior’s Inspiring Journey Through PSJA ISD's Early College Program 

SAN JUAN – Each year, thousands of students in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) participate in the district’s Early College Program, earning college credits as they complete their high school coursework. In addition to managing their coursework, several overcome numerous challenges, such as health issues, financial constraints, and family responsibilities, in the pursuit of their dreams. Among these determined students is Yareli Hernandez, who persevered with her studies despite battling scoliosis.  


For Yareli Hernandez, a 12th-grade student at PSJA Early College High School in San Juan, the path to success was not without its challenges. Battling scoliosis, which led to multiple surgeries during her high school years, Yareli's journey was marked by resilience and determination.   


Despite the setbacks, she remained focused on her goals, determined to make the most of the educational opportunities afforded by PSJA ISD. In December 2023, Yareli earned an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College, an accomplishment that came an entire semester before receiving her high school diploma. Additionally, through the PSJA Academies, Yareli is pursuing Industry-Based Certifications in Phlebotomy and EKG, setting herself on a path towards a future career in the medical field.  


Reflecting on her experience at PSJA ISD, Yareli emphasized the role played by the supportive network of teachers, counselors, and mentors.  


"I have flourished academically and have seized every opportunity that came my way," she shared, highlighting the rigorous coursework and extracurricular activities that enriched her educational journey.  


Yareli's story is not just about overcoming challenges; it's about turning adversity into opportunities for growth and achievement. Her passion for higher education in the medical field mirrors her determination to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others—a testament to her strength of character and resilience.  


Through PSJA ISD’s nationally recognized Early College Program in partnership with South Texas College, each year, thousands of high school students like Yareli can graduate with an Associate Degree or up to 60 college credit hours free of cost.  


Since its inception in 2008, the PSJA Early College Program has enabled thousands of PSJA ISD students to graduate from high school with a head start on their college work and with up to an Associate Degree from South Texas College.  


PSJA ISD is proud to share Yareli’s story and commends all students in celebration of PSJA Early College Week happening April 29-May 3, 2024.  


For more information about the PSJA Early College Program and opportunities available, visit or call 956-354-2167 for a campus tour.



Yareli Hernandez