OCA senior jumping into next chapter

Marisol Martin, 17, seen here in the Odessa College Learning Resource Center, is graduating early from Odessa Collegiate Academy and earning an associate degree from Odessa College at the same time. She’ll be walking the stage Saturday at the OC Sports Center. (Ruth Campbell | Odessa American)

Odessa Collegiate Academy senior Marisol Martin is jumping into the next chapter of her life feet first.

Martin, 17, is graduating a semester early from OCA and moving on to University of Texas Permian Basin to study psychology with the plan of going into social work.

She’ll walk the stage at 10 a.m. today at the OC Sports Center with an associate degree in general studies from OC. She’ll also be finished with high school, but OCA Principal James Ramage said she will likely walk with her classmates in the spring.

Martin said graduating early was on her mind for a while. She had a head start in English and math because she attended UTPB STEM Academy.

“I kind of wanted to continue that,” Martin said.

She said she thought it was going to be a lot of work to graduate with her high school diploma and associate degree, but it wasn’t as bad as she thought.

“Everyone’s really nice and really supportive,” Martin said.

Initially, she thought she would have a full senior year.

“It wasn’t until this summer that I decided last minute … I’m going to take summer classes and I’m just going to graduate in the winter. I think I … decided that because I felt like it was going to be a waste of the head start that I had. I just wanted to jump into everything as soon as possible as young as possible,” Martin said.

At OCA, she had been in the National Honor Society since sophomore year and was secretary this year. She also was the treasurer of Student Council this year.

She said she’s nervous about going to UTPB, but she’s used to being around older people because she took classes from OC.

“I’ve worked with like, 40-year-olds and stuff like that, which is strange because it’s like having classes with my mom,” she said.

Martin said her parents are “really supportive” of her early graduation.

“When I was deciding whether or not to do it, my mom said that she would support me either way. And so once I decided she’s like, okay, let’s do it and we got everything settled,” Martin said.

Her whole family is expected to be at Saturday’s graduation.

She doesn’t think the fact that she’s graduating will hit her until the day of commencement.

“But I’m slowly starting to feel the excitement and nerves. It’s going to be a lot of mixed emotions going up on that stage. But I did it,” Martin said Thursday.

Weirdly, she said, she felt like she was expected to graduate early. She told herself she needed to do it.

“But I’m proud of myself. I’m proud that I was able to do it,” Martin said.

She has two younger siblings and an older sister who is an art major at UTPB. Her mom also works at UTPB.

Martin said she thinks her siblings are proud of her achievement.

“But I want to set a good example for them and just show them that they can do it, too,” she added.

Martin said she’ll be taking junior and senior level courses at UTPB.

“It’s a bit scary,” she added.

If other kids want to follow in her footsteps, Martin said she’d advise them to just do it.

“It’s not as hard as it looks. It seriously seems overwhelming. I was overwhelmed my freshman year, and it’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s really easy, really steady paced and the professors are so sweet. Everyone is so sweet. But yeah, just do it. It’s not hard,” Martin said.

Ramage admires Martin’s achievement.

“It’s hard enough to get your associate degree while graduating high school at the same time. For her to do it one semester early, it’s just truly remarkable. (It) takes someone who’s very dedicated, and stays on top of their assignments and all the due dates, so we’re very proud of her accomplishments and we look forward to her graduation and doing great things at UTPB as she transfers there in the spring semester,” he added.