24-25 School Year Information Learn More

Bright Star Student Elias C. Graduates with High School Diploma and Associates Degree

June 7, 2024

Screenshot_2024-06-07_at_3_33_33 PM.png

As high schools celebrate graduations this June, Elias Cruz, a senior at Stella High Charter Academy, a Bright Star Schools charter public school located on the campus of Los Angeles Southwest College, has graduated with both a high school diploma and dual Associate in Arts (AA) degrees in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Liberal Arts (Teacher Preparation).

Cruz has more reasons to celebrate, this fall he will attend UCLA majoring in biology on a tuition and housing scholarship. He is one of several students participating in Stella High’s dual enrollment college program at Los Angeles Southwest College, where students earn college credits while also completing high school requirements.

WATCH Elias' story on Telemundo52:

“The program is universal of what we want to help all Bright Star students achieve – access to higher education,” said Ana L. Martinez, Bright Star Schools’ Lead Executive Officer. “We provide robust support in any higher education pathway a student chooses; it could be a 2-year or 4-year college degree or technical career. We want to make sure nothing gets in their way of completing higher education and charting the future they want,” she added.

Cruz credits his wish to attend a 4-year college to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees as the drive behind his efforts to pursue a dual AA degree while still in high school.

“As a first-generation student, I am thankful for the very close community that has motivated and supported me throughout my academic journey,” said Cruz. “Encouragement from my principal Mr. Garris and staff like Mr. Salazar helped me push through,” he added.

Stella High Charter Academy is one of nine Bright Star Schools, an L.A.-area tuition-free charter public school network serving high-need communities across Los Angeles. Bright Star Schools are found in South Los Angeles, Koreatown, and the northeast San Fernando Valley.

In 2022, 63% of Stella High’s students completed higher education within 6 years compared to just 25% of students from similar schools. In 2023, 88% of Bright Star Schools’ graduates matriculated to higher education, versus 50% of students attending similar schools nationwide. All Bright Star Schools’ graduates (100%) are eligible for admissions to Cal State or UC schools, compared to just 51% of high school graduates in California.

# # #

About Bright Star Schools

In nine, tuition-free public charter schools across three communities in Los Angeles (South Los Angeles, Koreatown, and the San Fernando Valley), Bright Star Schools’ 3,600+ students experience rigorous academics, inclusive education, social-emotional support and rich life opportunities beyond the classroom from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade and up to six years of free, individualized higher education support.