Honors Academy student accepted to Columbia University
June 2, 2023
As a sailor in the U.S. Navy, Estevon Dehoyos saw a lot of the world during his four-year hitch. But it's his success in the Honors Academy program at San Antonio
College that's propelling him to his next big destination – Columbia University in New York City.
Dehoyos, 24, has been accepted to the university's School of General Studies, where he plans to study business administration. A San Antonio native and the youngest of six children, he is the first member of his family to attend an Ivy League school.
"This is like a dream for me," Dehoyos said.
Dehoyos joined the Navy after graduating from LEE High School in 2017. While serving on a cruiser and a landing ship, Dehoyos went on a deployment that took him to Vietnam, Guam, Hawaii, and Guatemala.
After leaving the service, Dehoyos returned to San Antonio and enrolled at SAC. An advisor in the college's TRIO program for veterans directed him toward the Honors Academy, where Dehoyos quickly bonded with his teachers and fellow students.
"You go through a bunch of honors classes with the same group of people and you get to build a relationship with them," Dehoyos said. "There's a sense of camaraderie."
The Honors Academy focuses on courses in the college's core curriculum by creating additional assignments that give students a deeper understanding of each subject and more chance for exploration. Students must apply for acceptance in the program, maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher, and complete a final Capstone project in their fourth semester.
Professor Laurie Lopez Coleman, the director of the Honors Academy, said the program currently has about 275 students. Enrollment at SAC averages about 20,000. Coleman said most students who apply to the Honors Academy are accepted, but some end up turning down the invitation.
"When students hear 'honors' a lot of them think, 'Oh my gosh, it's harder,'" she said. "'I don't need harder. College is hard enough.'"
Tougher coursework, however, is only part of the equation at the Honors Academy. The program also offers a place where students can drop in, work with classmates and spend some one-on-one time with faculty advisors.
"It's a little space for for them so that they can come in and feel like they belong to the campus," Coleman said. "Sure, they can go to the library or find a building out there someplace where there's a table, but our center is really supposed to be a welcoming place for them to feel grounded at the college."
Dehoyos said that sense of place, support, and personal interaction in the Honors Academy helped him succeed.
"They helped me believe in myself by pointing me in the direction where I needed to go," he said.
An indifferent student in high school, Dehoyos flourished at SAC, both academically and personally. In addition to his studies, he worked as a volunteer on campus and helped set up school events and pop-up food markets for the San Antonio Food Bank. He also mentored several of his Honors Academy classmates.
"I was able to give something back to the school," Dehoyos said. "Which I really enjoyed."
Coleman said graduation time at SAC is "always a mixed blessing" when students like Dehoyos move on to the next chapter in their lives.
"You get to know them and you get to see them every day, almost like your own kids," she said. "And then they take this leap and you know that they're going on to something even more profound.
"It makes everything that you've done to invest in them worth it. It makes you proud."