Texas high school student makes history with associate’s degree
Doing some history in high school helps Lilia Vasquez Deras take a big step forward in her college studies.
Deras is the first student from Eaton High School in Haslet, which opened in 2015, to graduate from high school with a two-year skip to college. Through the school’s accelerated program, she has already earned her associate’s degree from Tarrant County College.
She will enter Texas A&M in the fall as a junior.
“It allows me to easily enter university. This means I won’t have to take 18 credits per semester and instead I can take a lighter load, like 12 credits and still graduate early,” she said, already looking to accelerate her college studies. “It gives me a chance to focus on my classes and enjoy college at the same time.
“Financially, my parents will save tons of money and they’re happy about it.”
She said she had a lot of support from her school counselors, which allowed her to take all the dual-credit courses she needed to earn her associate’s degree — and make history. Now she is graduating with honors and a 3.8 GPA.
True Definition of Student-Athlete
“Lilia is a dedicated student-athlete. She does an outstanding job prioritizing and balancing her extremely rigorous course load, athletics and extracurricular activities,” said Councilor Rebecca Kelley. “She is consistent, mature and ambitious.”
Being a four-year-old college football player — in addition to playing at the highest level of club football — also helped, Deras said, noting the discipline required. She has been practicing the sport since she was very young.
“Football is a team sport that has taught me many life lessons about dealing with adversity and working together as a team,” she said.
Deras has helped Eaton advance to regional competition for the past two seasons.
“Her maturity and high standards have been a big part of her success as an athlete and a student, and as someone with such values, it’s no surprise that she’s able to accomplish so much,” said Eaton women’s soccer coach Aaron Knight. . “We are extremely proud of Lilia for achieving this accomplishment and are happy to see her hard work pay off.”
Deras plans to double major in public health and nursing and enter the nursing profession after college. She will be the first in her family to enter this field, inspired by her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis three years ago (she is now in remission).
“She was super strong and we are so grateful to all the healthcare workers who helped her through this,” she said.
The second event that inspired her is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I got to see firsthand how it affected people very close to me. First responders really inspired me because they put their own health on the line to help others,” Deras said.
And, as if she wasn’t studying enough already, she received her Licensed Practical Nurse certificate last summer.
“By going through this process, I was able to learn first-hand what nurses do,” she said.
Set a good example for others
Deras hopes she inspires others to follow her lead and get a head start in college.
“Taking college-level courses in high school really prepares you mentally to go to four-year college. I learned how to manage my schedule, communicate with my teachers and take ownership of my grades,” she said. “I don’t consider myself a super smart person, but I consider myself a very hard worker.”
Eaton principal Stacy Miles said Deras is an example of her school’s vision and has given the school another “first” to build on.
“We hope many more will be inspired by his accomplishments,” Miles said.