TEMPLE — Proof of their hard work and desire to achieve came in the form of braided silver cords for one group of Central Texas high school seniors earlier this week.

During a ceremony Wednesday at Temple College, the Texas Bioscience Institute awarded silver cords to 51 high school seniors soon to be college graduates.

Thirty-one of the high-achieving seniors are Killeen Independent School District students and are scheduled to receive an associate degree from Temple College a few days before receiving their high school diplomas.

Dressed in white lab coats they received upon beginning the program, students stepped across the stage of the Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center where TC Vice President Daniel Spencer placed the cord about their necks.

Those who earned silver cords went beyond even the rigors of college work, completing 16 hours of job shadowing or research and 16 hours of community service.

For many students, the ceremonial cording represented the end of a powerful beginning.

Ellison High School senior Jordan Jones, slated to attend the University of Texas, said the two years of bioscience studies seemed like an early step into college. She praised the collegiate atmosphere of the Texas Bioscience Institute, pointing out the extensive lab work and interaction with peers.

“The experience, the knowledge, the professors — it was awesome,” she said. “It prepared me for college.”

“An amazing experience,” is how Ellison senior Brianna Hatfield described her two years at the Texas Bioscience Institute, also called Middle College. “It helped me prepare. I learned life lessons.”

She said the workload, balancing high school with college, was challenging, but led her to commit to biomedical science studies at Texas A&M University. “The lab sciences made it fun and interesting.”

Veronica Miller of Harker Heights High School said the institute came to be her school and she felt she had grown up with her peers who came from schools all over Bell County. “It helped me decide what I want to do, which is research.”

Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller was the keynote speaker. He encouraged students to keep working hard, to maintain perspective and to exercise resilience.

Muller also praised the joint partnership between Temple College and the county’s school districts, along with Scott & White and numerous other partners to provide high-level science courses and interface with medical professionals.

“Ten years from now you will be national champions in whatever field you choose,” Muller said to the cord recipients. “The choice is up to you.”

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