First ACC dual degree grad earns bachelor’s at Texas A&M
When Alvin Independent School District and Alvin Community College administrators developed the dual degree program several years ago, their desire was to give determined students a tool to excel and get a head start on their goals.
On Dec. 17, Thomas Schuenemann, who was the first to graduate through the program with an associate degree a month before graduating from Alvin High School in 2008, showed them exactly what determination and the opportunity could accomplish.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Texas A&M University at Kingsville with a 4.0 GPA – at the age of 20. He also earned his GIS (geographic information systems) certification in May.
“I feel honored to have watched Thomas achieve this goal and look forward to whatever successes he is sure to experience in the future,” said Tina Martin, an ACC academic advisor based at AHS who assisted Schuenemann with his dual degree plan. “He also did a fine job of exhibiting a balance between academics and involvement in other university activities.”
While at A&M, Schuenemann worked for the City of Kingsville field mapping and as a teacher’s assistant for a freshmen meteorology lab for the university.
Although the dual degree program is designed to spread out two years of college and dual credit courses throughout the entire four years of high school, Schuenemann was going into the 10th grade when the program became available and was set on being the first to complete it. The effort put him two years ahead of his peers at the university.
“A lot of people who I went to school with (at A&M) said they wish they could have done it, but didn’t have the opportunity,” he said.
Schuenemann’s drive and the dual degree program didn’t just help him reach his career goals more quickly, however. It helped his family save a lot of money.
In addition to saving thousands of dollars by taking courses at ACC through the program (tuition is much lower and many courses are also tuition-free) and receiving scholarships before transferring, his academics earned him approximately 10 additional scholarships totaling about $10,000 while at A&M.
“He had almost 90 percent of his education paid for through grants and scholarships,” Schuenemann’s mother, Becky, stated.
According to Becky, her son has exhibited the need to challenge himself since he was young.
“Education has always been extremely important to him,” she said. “He always has had big plans for the future and wanted to go far in life and he knew he needed a college education to do so.”
“I always felt like I wanted to be successful and independent,” Shuenemann expressed. “It seems like when you get out of high school, it’s all up to you and there’s no one out there pushing, so I learned to push myself.”
Just before graduation, he accepted a position as a field clerk at Global Geophysical Services in Missouri City.