Dante Laird couldn’t take the suspense any longer. He pulled into the nearby Kroger parking lot and opened his email, refreshing again and again until the clock struck
And then there it was: “Stanford University” topped his inbox in bold. With a shaky finger, the 18-year-old high school senior opened the email and unveiled a letter of congratulations he never expected.
“I’m pretty sure I yelled out loud,” Laird said, laughing. “Then I called everyone I knew to tell them the news—I got into Stanford!”
Laird is a recent graduate of Bryan Collegiate High School, a unique partnership between Blinn College and Bryan ISD that sets high school students on the fast track to a college degree. Graduates leave Bryan Collegiate not only with their high school diploma, but with 40-60 college credit hours they can transfer to a four-year degree.
Blinn instructors travel to the Bryan Collegiate campus to teach courses to freshmen and sophomores, while juniors and seniors take their courses on Blinn’s Bryan campus. Seniors take just one class at Bryan Collegiate while the remainder of their schedule consists of Blinn coursework.
Laird always planned to attend college, but enrolling at Bryan Collegiate helped him build a plan to reach his goals. In addition to Stanford, his top choice, Laird was accepted to the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, the University of Southern California and Hartwick College.
Laird said it was his admissions essay that got him accepted to some of the nation’s top universities. In his essay, Laird wrote about the challenges members of his family have faced with alcoholism, and how those issues impacted his childhood. He also struggled to accept his sexuality and was taunted by his peers.
“When most people see me, they consider me another upper middle class white kid who has everything,” he said. “It’s not that simple. I have what I do now because I was able to move myself out of a bad situation.”
As a preteen, Laird remembers being bullied and questioning his worth.
“My sexuality was confusing to me for a long time,” he said. “I hated myself. It took me a long time to realize that my sexuality is not something I’m going to be able to change, ever. Negativity is essential in life. It’s the people who have put me down who have helped me grow.”
Despite his past, Laird resolved to never give up on his education. Bryan Collegiate High School and Blinn College helped perpetuate those ideals.
“I didn’t expect Bryan Collegiate to be so amazing,” Laird said. “The teachers, administrators, even the janitors are great. And taking classes on an actual college campus with college students—it was anxiety-inducing at first, but it was a great experience.”
Laird will head to Stanford in September, where he will study communications and economics. His goal is to open a publishing company.
Registration is currently available for Blinn’s Summer II and Fall semesters. For registration and financial aid information, visit: www.blinn.edu.
Release courtesy of Blinn College