A Day in the Life of High School Student: Esmeralda Castillo at S.T.E.M Early College High School

Oct 13th, 2016

Category: Blog

A Day in the Life of High School Student: Esmeralda Castillo at S.T.E.M Early College High School

The most common questions a traditional high school junior is asked always have to do with which college they’re going to, how they feel about becoming a college student and what field they’re going to major in. Although these are the type of questions I am asked, my answer is very different than other students because I am already a full-time college student and am no stranger to a time-consuming schedule.

In February of 2014, I received the incredible opportunity to apply to become a student of the inaugural class at the S.T.E.M. Early College high school. Within two months, I was accepted into this accelerated program and learned I would graduate high school with both my diploma and an Associate’s degree from Palo Alto College (PAC). With the choice between five different majors, I decided to work towards my Associate’s in Engineering and since then, have loved living life with a college student schedule.

This semester I am constantly engaged in academic and extracurricular activities both in and out of school. Not only am I enrolled in four classes at PAC and one class at S.T.E.M., I am also the Presidential advisor for the Class of 2018, Chief Executive Officer for my MATE robotics team, and Chair of the Outreach Committee for the San Antonio Youth Commission (SAYC), a civic engagement platform for high school students managed by the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County. SAYC is the only activity that I participate in that doesn’t take place during the week. Usually, our meetings/ events occur once a month and are composed of 22 commissioners from all 10 city council districts and the office of the Mayor that represent the youth’s voices of the city of San Antonio. The main thing I love about this demanding schedule is that I have the chance to dedicate my time to something different each and every day.

Each hour of my weekdays between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm are planned around the time I spend on either my high school or college campus. Even though my classes are different each day, there are still some daily constants throughout the week. The school buses always arrive to PAC by 9:00 am and no matter which campus we are at the entire student body is required to check-in with our high school for lunch.

On Mondays, I am in my United States History class from 9:30-10:45. Once class is over, I then head to the cafeteria for lunch. After this, I then have a little over an hour for myself and a group of friends to head to a study room in the library and focus on the homework for the week. At around 12:15, we make our way to the other side of campus for our 12:30-2:10 Calculus class. Once this class is done for the day, I am allowed to return home; however, due to my parent’s schedules, I stay at PAC until the 4:30 bus returns to take the juniors back to S.T.E.M. Once there, I finish my day by spending one hour working and planning for the 2017 MATE robotics season.

For me, Tuesday is the most unique day of the week. As soon as I arrive at PAC, I rush to my 9:00-10:40 Intro to Engineering class and then immediately after, I make my way to my 11:00-12:15 British Literature course. This is followed by lunch in the cafeteria and then piano practice in the performing arts building until 2:00. At around 2:15, the buses bring me back to S.T.E.M. for my PLTW Aerospace Engineering course that ends at 4:20. After school, I spend approximately one hour planning for the Class of 2018 Leadership council meeting taking place that upcoming Thursday.

Wednesdays and Thursdays are much like my Monday-Tuesday schedules with the exception of a few details. The only differences with Wednesdays are that I have to prepare for my weekly quiz in Calculus and must also get on a different bus at the end of the day. Instead of heading back to S.T.E.M., I travel to my home school, McCollum High School for chess club. Since my Intro to Engineering course occurs once a week, on Thursdays I only attend British Literature and Aerospace. My Thursday is concluded by leading the Leadership council in preparing for that week’s Class of 2018 meeting.

Finally, I reach the day of the week all students wait for…Friday! After the Class of 2018 meeting in the morning (8:00-8:30 am), all of the juniors meet in the cafeteria for weekly announcements with the counselor and principal. On Fridays, none of the juniors have PAC classes but are still required to attend their high school courses. So from 9:00-12:30, I am in the PAC library practicing chess or doing whatever work needs to be done for the upcoming weekend. I then ride the bus back to S.T.E.M. for lunch and stay in the robotics room until Aerospace begins at 2:00 pm. My school week completely ends at 3:30 pm. This is when I am released from class and board the bus to McCollum high school.

If there is anything I’ve learned through my years at S.T.E.M., it is that time is precious. There are only so many hours in a day and for college students, it always seems as if 24 isn’t enough. With my schedule, my time management skills have only improved and they are still developing. My hope for the future is that throughout the different schedules students have, they will continue to value and appreciate their time.


Esmeralda Castillo is a junior attending the S.T.E.M. Early College High School. She plans on attending Stanford University to double major in Electrical and Aerospace engineering and represents District 3 on the San Antonio Youth Commission. The San Antonio Youth Commission is a civic engagement platform for San Antonio High School students and is managed by the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County.

Learn more about the San Antonio Youth Commission here: www.sayouthcommission.com

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