STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Llano High School Principal Jenifer Neatherlin refers to her students as dream chasers. On Nov. 28 during a “signing day,” 23 of her seniors took a step toward realizing their dreams when they announced where they will be attending college.
Signing day was truly a dream come true for two seniors: Courtney Reina, who will attend Texas A&M University, and Carlos Arredondo, who will be headed to the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Reina will be the first in her family to attend college, while Arredondo is the youngest of seven children and the fifth to go to college.
Reina had set her goal of going to a university years earlier. Her mother, Crystal Duncan, works in the food industry. While the family has had all they’ve needed, her mom has had to work extremely hard to make that happen, Reina said.
“My life hasn’t been given to me,” the senior said. “I don’t want to be struggling. I want to go to college and do something with my life.”
Reina, who plans to major in allied health to become a nurse practitioner, applied to Texas A&M University in July and received her acceptance letter in September.
“A&M is like a big Llano,” she said. “I was really excited when I got accepted. We danced and hugged.”
Arredondo, who will major in civil engineering at UTSA, said he is looking forward to going to a big city that has a deep Hispanic influence.
“I want to be exposed to a Hispanic community,” he said. “I want to know more people from my culture.”
While signing days are more associated with athletic or fine arts scholarships, Neatherin pointed out that applying to major universities in Texas is highly competitive. That’s why she and so many were so proud to have six students choose Texas A&M, regarded as one of the most prestigious universities.
“If you don’t think it’s competitive to get into Texas A&M,” she said, “you should see the turndown list.”
Llano High School counselor Courtney Edwards said students must be in the top 10 percent of their class to be considered by the Aggies.
Edwards said the reason for the signing day was to honor those who had made their college choice. Most of the seniors had already declared a major.
“We have great kids who go on to do great things,” Edwards said.
The high school will have another signing day in the spring.