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Class of '17: Juggling College Classes in High School Takes Grit

Lara Solt
Joel Luera attends W.W. Samuell Early College High School in Dallas and takes all of his classes on the Eastfield College Campus.

The Class of ’17 — a group of North Texas students that KERA began following three years ago — is wrapping up its junior year. And it’s crunch time, which means these students are starting to make decisions about what will come after graduation.

For the next several weeks, we’re checking in with them.

For Joel Luera, an 11th grader who’s already started college, the decision to get ahead came early.

There’s no question Joel is a standout. He’s ranked No. 4 in his class at W.W. Samuell Early College High School in Dallas. He’s a champion debater. And he takes classes on a college campus.

But this school year hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been different,” he says. “One thing they kind of don’t tell you when you go to, I guess [a school] like here, is you still got to go through all the high school stuff. Like, you know, the quote-unquote ‘discovering yourself’ and all that.”

Joel spends his days at Eastfield College, a community college in Mesquite with 14,000 students. He’s one of more than 200 juniors and seniors there from Samuell’s early college program.

Learn more about Joel here. And explore the rest of the Class of ’17 series here.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.