Eileen Paguio-Palarca, 17

She might not be old enough to vote, but Eileen Paguio-Palarca, 17, has her associate’s degree from Los Angeles Mission College (LAMC), and is on her way to UC Irvine in the fall where she will start her junior year of college as a Psychology major. 

And even though graduating early from high school and college is no novelty in her family — her older sister also graduated from LAMC at age 17 — Eileen’s mom is still proud of her daughter’s achievements. 

“She enrolled following in her sister’s footsteps, who had graduated from LAMC nine years prior,” said Teresa Paguio-Palarca. “They were both competitive figure ice skaters. Her sister had to attend virtual high school in order to practice, that’s when we discovered that (they) could also attend college.” 

Teresa says both of her daughters took advantage of LAMC’s Weekend College, formerly known as the ITV program. The hybrid program allowed the sisters to continue high school while taking college courses at night and weekends. 

“She was excited, but at the same time she knew it was not going to be easy keeping up with the busy schedule,” Teresa said. 

Eileen said it was a bit challenging initially, both academically and socially. 

“Being a part-time student at Mission was a struggle at first, but I eventually learned time-management, how to balance my normal academics with college courses, and multiple other skills that will benefit me in the future,” Eileen said. 

After completing high school last year at age 16, Eileen was able to enjoy her last year at Mission as a full-time student. 

“It allowed me to experience a little more of the college atmosphere,” Eileen said. “Towards the end of this academic year, I was able to find a lot more students that were also applying to transfer to a university and eventually became socially comfortable on campus.” 

She decided to major in Psychology and Social Behavior, with a minor in Health Informatics, because of her sister’s enthusiasm for the human mind and behavior. 

“I hope to utilize what I’ve learned from both community college and university to analyze data and conduct research in the health care environment,” Eileen said. 

She credits many resources on campus with guiding her throughout the year, especially the Student Success Center and the Weekend College. 

“These accomplishments would not have been possible without my family being my best support system, LAMC’s ITV program (now Weekend College), and the IGETC pathway to guide me,” Eileen said. 

“It has been an amazing journey and I have been truly blessed with these several opportunities.” 

Carlos Gonzalez, Dean of Student Services, said Eileen’s success is a testament to hard work and determination. 

“Eileen’s success comes from the hard work and dedication her family instilled,” Gonzalez said. “She is not only making a difference in her life, but will inspire other students in our community to achieve great things.”