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Madison Metropolitan School District

Early College STEM Academy Grad Reflects on Academic Success

Ana Michelle Guerrero-Rivera’s family, friends, and educators broke into cheers as she walked across the Madison College graduation stage last month, earning her associate degree through the Early College STEM Academy.

The partnership between MMSD and Madison College increases opportunities for students to earn free STEM college credit while still in high school. At only 18 years old, Guerrero-Rivera has already completed two years of college during her junior and senior years.

“I learned a lot about myself as a student and as a person,” Guerrero-Rivera said. “I also learned that I need help from others. It may sound obvious but this experience really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and ask for help.” 

For Guerrero-Rivera, that meant developing a detailed class and study schedule and discovering her learning style. One of her favorite memories from the Academy is receiving tutoring help at the Student Achievement Center while taking Calculus II. With help from her tutor, she saw instant success in her homework and test scores.

One of the educators cheering on Guerrero-Rivera during graduation was her former Memorial High School teacher, Aitor Luna Olivares, who encouraged her to apply to the STEM Academy in the first place.

“He made sure to still make me feel like a high school student. He would send me class emails and announcements, and shared invites to school events,” she said. “He’s an overall great person. He has an amazing heart and wants nothing but the best for every single student he has.” 

With two years of college already finished, Guerrero-Rivera plans on attending UW-Madison with a full tuition scholarship. She hopes to major in elementary education and Spanish, and explore additional STEM courses. 

One of Guerrero-Rivera’s favorite unknown quotes echoes her own persistence and success:

"Being a first generation student means that they're taking risks, stepping outside of their comfort zone, and doing something they've never seen anyone in their family do before."