HARLINGEN — A lot of late nights.
That’s how Evelyn Perez made salutatorian of her graduating class this year at the Harlingen School of Health Professions.
“I feel very proud of myself,” said Evelyn, 18. “I know ever since I was a little girl I worked hard and luckily I was blessed that many of the academics just came to me. It was innate learning, but believe me, I still worked hard and I’m just very proud.”
Evelyn has a clear understanding of her learning style, and that self-awareness has played a key role in her success.
“When I take notes in class it’s mainly what the teacher says versus what’s on the PowerPoint,” she said. “I always caught that. I wouldn’t really focus on the PowerPoint as much as how they were describing words and processes.”
And, she understands her challenges and how to face them.
“I’m not a good test taker, that’s for sure, so I needed to study,” she said with frankness. “I’m not one of those people who can just go in and guess because I’m not a good guesser.”
With this knowledge in hand, she spent many long hours at her kitchen table studying. She recalled quite vividly one very long night there.
“There was a lab report,” she said, “and I remember staying up until 3 a.m. to complete it because it had to be a certain way and I needed it to be perfect, and it was worth it. I got a good grade on it.”
COVID-19 and its restrictions presented even more obstacles, the challenges multiplied exponentially by the suddenness of it all and the novelty of those difficulties.
As with most students, her learning strategies were based on face-to-face instruction. Going online required fast and innovative adjustment.
“I took my AP psychology exam at the end of last year, I had to take all my AP exams and it was all online,” she said. “It was very hard for us to adjust to the new way. I think that has been one of the hardest challenges.”
More specifically, she had been accustomed to fact-based exams. The AP online exams were in essay format.
“We hadn’t learned to take it in the essay format,” she said.
But, she learned fast; well enough to make salutatorian.
She’s enjoyed her years of study at HSHP; she gave special mention of Amy Sharpe, her AP psychology teacher.
“In that class it was so fun,” she said. “It was a lot of hands-on experiments and projects.”
Sharpe’s instruction kindled a passion for the subject in Evelyn’s mind, so much so that she plans to major in psychology at Texas A&M University at College Station.
“That was one of my, ‘Oh, my gosh, I need to do this, I need to study more in depth,’” she said. “I love it now.”
She plans to use that initial degree to later study law and practice the field of either social work or criminal justice.