We first met Mia Rodriguez at the 2019 Texas Charter Schools Conference, where she welcomed the conference goers with a beautiful folklorico dance. Recently, we met up with Mia again at her school, the School of Science and Technology San Antonio, where she is a senior this year. Over the summer, she attended summer programs at Harvard University and Columbia University.
Even in the second grade, Mia dreamed of going to college at Harvard someday. She enrolled at SST in sixth grade and is committed to going to a selective college or university. Her interests are in psychology and criminology, so she has been researching undergraduate and graduate programs in those fields. Her parents emigrated from Mexico; the college application process is new to them, but they have supported her search, even driving the family on long road trips to see campuses in person. With help from the counselor at SST, Mia has broadened her search and made a spreadsheet of where to apply.
Mia described her college search process. “It’s sitting down expressing exactly what you want to get out of college, and what you want to do afterwards. You need to look at financial aid, location. My idea was always to go out of state. It’s definitely a good idea to just sit down and talk and be able to communicate what exactly you’re seeking to get.”
She was bold about setting ambitious goals for herself. “You are visualizing a future for yourself different than how your family grew up. You visualize yourself at Harvard or a school like Harvard, out of state. As you get older, you learn about things like scholarships and what kind of academic preparation you need to get there. So, the first step is to set the goal and talk about it with your family, and then figure out what the steps are to get there.” Mia described herself as an extrovert, but sometimes she has had to turn down invitations to hang out with friends to make sure she had time to stay home and study.
In the Harvard summer program, she was able to earn college credit, and earned a 4.0 GPA. The courses were virtual, and she studied from her parents’ home in San Antonio, but she still formed a bond with her classmates in the summer program. She felt energized by the courses. She has had her heart set on Harvard for a long time, but realizes that it’s good to broader her search. Going to the summer program at Harvard was a dream come true—even having a college email address.
Mia started learning folklorico when she was five years old, and has danced professionally since she was twelve. She has studied other styles of dance, too, but she is passionate about folklorico because it represents Mexican culture. Last year, she founded a dance company and learned the skill of managing dancers of all ages—some younger, some older than her. She said dance is her “de-stressor” and provides a balance to her hard work on academics. During the pandemic, she set up a home studio and recorded video lessons to keep her younger company members practicing.
Before the pandemic, Mia had a very full schedule. Sometimes, she would do an early morning dance performance for television, and then show up at school in full hair and makeup, promising, “I’ll take it off in the bathroom after class.” She has a little planner that she takes with her everywhere: “I don’t know what I’d do without it.” Since March, she has spent more time at home with her family. They are enjoying baking and cooking new recipes. She has also tried yoga at home.
We also spoke with Mia’s mother, Blanca Rodriguez. She remembered coming to SST—San Antonio when the school was new and the SST community was still small. She appreciated the attention that her daughter got from the teachers. Despite having a busy schedule—Mia also has taught folklorico dance to K–8 students at SST Alamo—she always puts her studies first and is self-motivated.
The School of Science and Technology is a high performing public nonprofit charter school system with five campuses in San Antonio. SST offers a rigorous college prep STEM curriculum for students in pre-kinder through twelfth grade. SST is tuition free and receives no local tax dollars. SST campuses are also located in Houston and Corpus Christi. Families can apply online.
Read More About the School of Science and Technology San Antonio
- “Yo sabía que lo que estaba haciendo era por algo muy grande”: joven de San Antonio obtiene calificación perfecta en Harvard,” Univision San Antonio, September 2, 2020
- “Exploring Magnetism”, Kelly Alston, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 24, 2020
- “Making Faces and Building Social and Emotional Skills,” Jennifer St. Pierre and Elizabeth Scott, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 15, 2020
- “Guide to Enrolling in School of Science and Technology (SST) San Antonio for 2020–21,” San Antonio Charter Moms, January 21, 2020