During the uncertainty and changes of COVID-19, Samantha Sadeghi dug her heels in and still broke records at Stafford MSD. She graduated in the Class of 2020 as part of the first cohort of Spartans to receive an Associates degree from Houston Community College before getting a high school diploma. Kevin Nguyen and Miriam Santacruz also received this honor by taking dual credit courses through the Stafford College & Career Center.
“I am extremely proud of these three students for their dedication and determination to be the first in the history of the district to receive a college degree before they graduated from high school. This accomplishment equates to roughly $30,000 in saving in tuition/books/housing for the students and their families."
Ms. Deborah Nordt, Director of Stafford College & Career Center
However, Samantha takes reflection seriously and when asked if she would change anything about her high school experience, she responded in the affirmative quickly.
"It would be my mindset. Stafford built the Career & Techinical Education (CTE) program when I was a freshman, but when I signed up for classes, I had never even visited that side of the school. I wasn't thinking about how to take advantage of it and I had no idea that those exact classes and opportunities would change my life."
As a junior in 2019, Sadeghi was the Vice President of the Stafford High DECA Club and also became the first student in three years to become a National Finalist in the Restaurant and Food Service Management category. DECA is a national Business/Marketing organization for students. To this day, she still treasures the memories, experiences and trips from her time in that club.
Sadeghi graduated from high school during a historic year taken ransom by COVID-19 including a spring break that lasted two weeks, a cancelled prom, and day-long graduation ceremony. She said, "The pandemic definitely made it hard to enjoy my Senior year. I had to cancel my dorm with my best friend from high school, and after we planned it for 2 years. It was a lot of superficial things, but that didn't make it any easier. It was important to persevere and encourage myself that it would have to get better."
When she graduated high school, she wanted to be a successful optometrist like her great-grandfather in Iran. That is until she saw her first semester schedule at the University of Houston. Her classes were all science-based and the schedule just didn't excite her, so she started adding in courses for the Business Administration degree plan. At the end of 2020, she decided to officially switch her major and feels great about it, "College is the place to figure yourself out. You can change your major, just stick to what you're passionate about. It doesn't matter how that happens or what the change looks like."
The future is full of possibilities for Samantha even as the pandemic continues to change her college experience and keep her in online classes. Although teaching herself the course material is her least favorite part of college, she has still managed to find friends and keep her eye on the prize. "I'm hoping to graduate in 3 years. I got done with a ton of credits in high school. I'm ready to find an internship and get more hands on experience. As for my future career, I'm still open to what the title is. I know I want to make a good living and I want to be happy," she stated with confidence.