People of OC


“Getting my associates degree from Odessa College while I was in High School is one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I am so grateful that OC gave me the opportunity to do so.”

At the age of 14 Kara Williams began her journey as a dual-credit student.

She was young but determined to become successful.


When I was in the 8th grade, I attended an assembly at my middle school about the Falcon Early College High School. I knew that was what I wanted to do –– I wanted to attend the Early College High School. By the next year when I started 9th grade, the school had moved to OC and was the Odessa Collegiate Academy. Our class will be the first OCA class to complete four years at OC.”

 Natalya is the first high school graduate and the first college graduate in her family. She knew that she wanted to go to college, but she also knew that she would not have the financial means for that, so the ECHS would help her accomplish her goal. After her first year at OCA, at the age of 14, her parents were no longer “in the picture.” Natalya made the decision to move to Mexico to live with her grandmother.

“I needed to come back to Odessa and go to school. Most kids my age had their parents to fall back on, I didn’t. My whole future was in my hands and I had to make the best decision for myself which was coming back and pursuing an education.” 

Her aunt in Odessa agreed to take her in, give her a home and care for her. She returned, determined to get back into Odessa Collegiate Academy. Natalya was successful at convincing the school officials, but she had to repeat her 9th grade year.

Natalya had a goal that was driving her – it was really important to her to graduate with her classmates, who were now a year ahead of her in school. To accomplish this, she had to attend school during the regular school year and during the summer sessions. For two years now, she has gone to school year-round –– and she has accomplished her goal. Natalya will graduate with her classmates and receive her associate degree this weekend, before continuing to pursue her bachelor’s degree in education.

-Natalya Aguilera



“I started out with bright prospects, but I was unsuccessful in getting into the program –– I didn’t have all of the pre-requisite courses. I later got into the program, but was unsuccessful in my last semester –– I couldn’t concentrate. I was working and going to school and I had test anxiety.”

Eyitemi was excited about getting his nursing degree. He did well in his clinicals, but tests were a challenge for him. In his last semester of the program, he was making such poor scores on his tests that his instructor told him that she didn’t think he was going to be able to pass the class. He also did not have the best relationship with this instructor. He had the misconception that she was “mean,” but he said that instructor turned out to be the “sweetest person in the world.” Instead of letting him drop out of the program, she gave him a second chance and encouraged him to retake the class. She pushed him to try harder and referred him to a counselor for help. His instructor listened to him and encouraged him as he persisted in his course. She REALLY cared about his success, and he was willing to do what he had to do. Eyitemi has become more confident, overcome his test anxiety, performed well on his tests, and now will graduate with his Associate Degree in Nursing.

-Eyitemi Ofeno


“I had completed my core courses and it was time to choose what I wanted to major in. It was accidental perfect timing – I fell into it. I looked at the degree options and thought that taking x-rays sounded interesting. I applied to the program and was chosen for the first group to interview – then I successfully progressed through the next part of the process and did well. I had to wait a short while, but I soon received my acceptance letter to the next class in the Radiologic Technology program.”

Lalie is the daughter of immigrant parents. She will be the first college graduate in her family. Her two-year journey to get her degree has not been easy. Radiologic Technology Director Carrie Nanson said, “Lalie has been amazing in overcoming what she has dealt with and succeeding in this program – anyone else would have given up.”

In her first year, Lalie felt that she couldn’t keep up with her classmates, and she considered dropping out. She struggled with depression. She didn’t realize that she needed help. In her classes, she kept pressing on, trying to deal with her emotions and stress. In her second year of the Rad Tech program, all of her instructors collectively met with her to support her and they recommended that she take advantage of counseling. Once she sought out the help she needed, Lalie began to thrive academically – so much so that she will graduate this weekend with her Associate Degree in Radiologic Technology.

-"Lalie" Alaniz


“I always liked school and I did well in school. I always wanted to go to college, but when I graduated from high school, it was a different time then. You were expected to graduate from high school, get married and have a family. I did that and I always put my family first. When COVID hit, that was my chance to go back to school and get my associate degree … I started college when I was 50 years old.”

Lionel worked in oilfield-related jobs his entire adult life, and he worked his way from the bottom up. He worked the more dangerous jobs because he could make more money to provide for his family. Eventually, he was promoted which meant that he didn’t have to be on 24-hour call anymore and he had weekends off, allowing him to pursue his dream. Lionel came to OC and walked in the front door, not knowing what to do to get started. “Everyone was so helpful, and they took care of me every step of the way.”

Lionel was working full time and didn’t have internet access at his home, so he spent many hours every evening after his classes and on weekends in the Learning Resources Center and other locations where he could access the internet. He would do his homework in his pickup parked in a parking lot or at the mall while his family shopped. He never missed one evening of class. When he finished his class work, he would stay and help his classmates with their work. He took advantage of the resources that were available to him such as tutoring, the Math Lab, and the LRC. Lionel completed his associate’s degree in Automation just as OC began offering a bachelor’s degree in that field, so he continued on and will now be graduating with his BAAS degree.

Lionel is the first, but not the last, in his family to graduate from college. His son, Drey, will graduate next year from OCTECHS with his associate’s degree and continue at OC to get his bachelor’s degree as well. Lionel has set a new example and expectation for his family, and we couldn’t be more proud to call him a Wrangler.

-Lionel Baiza