18-year-old student receives degree at spring commencement
Posted: 05/08/2002
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Norma Ester Borrego of Edcouch began her college career at The University of Texas-Pan American before she was old enough to drive.

Three years later, the 18-year-old was one of the youngest Bachelor of Arts degree candidates at the 2002 spring commencement recently and has already been accepted to several law schools.

Norma Ester Borrego, 18, is one of the youngest Bachelor of Arts degree candidates at the 2002 spring commencement Saturday, May 11. She will walk in the 9 a.m. commencement exercises in the UTPA Fieldhouse.
"I started taking classes here when I was 15, and for the first two years while I was in high school, my parents would come and drop me off at UTPA because I was not old enough to drive," Borrego said.

Borrego, an English major and biology minor, was able to accomplish this task by taking advantage of concurrent enrollment.

"The opportunity was there and I grabbed it," said Borrego, who also completed high school in three years. "A lot of people told me I should go out and have a lot more fun in high school, but I don't feel like I've missed out on anything."

When she graduated from Edcouch-Elsa High School in 2000, Borrego had earned 42 hours of college credit. During her sophomore year at UTPA, she tested out of an additional 12 hours of college credit in Spanish and English.

She said the biggest factors in her academic success are her time management skills, her ability to prioritize and on the support of her parents, Jesus Mario and Juanita Borrego, who drove her to and from classes at UTPA until she received her driver's license.

While at UTPA, Borrego has been named to the dean's list and nominated for "Who's Who Among Students at American Universities and Colleges."

Over the years, Borrego has encountered well meaning, but misplaced advice from people who feel she should have taken more time to enjoy her high school years.

"I don't feel burnt out, and I don't feel like I should have taken things slower," she said. "Honestly, I don't think I would have done it any different. If anything, if I could, I would have done it earlier.

"The way I put it to the people who always tell me to go out and have some fun, I tell them I'm going to have fun when I have a fat paycheck because I'm still going to be just 20-21 when I graduate from law school," she said.

Borrego, who will graduate with a 3.2 grade point average, plans to attend law school after graduation and has already applied and been accepted to three top-notch schools: The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University, and New York Law School.

Law school interested Borrego after she was accepted into the Law School Preparation Institute (LSPI) at UTPA last summer. LSPI has already made an impact in preparing students for potential law careers.

"At first, I didn't know much about it (going to law school)," she said. "Then, I was accepted into LSPI, and it helped in my decision."

Borrego said her English degree will help her in her future law career because she enjoys reading and research. She said her loves will always be literature and biology.

If she had not decided to become a lawyer, Borrego would have considered becoming a veterinarian because she loves animals.

"Who knows? I still may be able to go into veterinary medicine," Borrego said. "I'll be young enough to do it when I finish law school."