Woman Who Graduated TTU K-12 20 Years Ago Set to Graduate from Texas Tech
By Leslie Cranford, Section Manager
In 1998, Crystal Green's parents decided to enroll her in the TTU K-12 program, which was still early in its existence, having only been approved by the Texas Legislature in 1993. She was a high school junior; the school she and her brother were attending didn't align with what the Greens wanted for their children.
"My brother chose the GED program, but I wanted a diploma," Green said. "Mom looked around for all the possibilities, and this one sounded perfect. At the time, there were not many options like this to get an actual diploma. My mom warned me that it would probably be more challenging than the route my brother took, but I just thought it would be worth it."
Green graduated from Texas Tech High School in 1999. Now 20 years later, she states emphatically that it was definitely worth it.
Having worked in several industries over the years, Green landed a job in the Student Business Services office at Texas Tech University five years ago. Now, in her late 30s, she's pursuing her bachelor's degree in Languages & Cultures, minoring in Classics, thanks in part to the TTU K-12 scholarship she has received all these years later.
"It never occurred to me that starting with TTU K-12 would benefit me later, in this way," Crystal said. "My parents didn't have time or money for college; I felt like I'd be fine just going into the workforce."
Green says the biggest challenge attending TTU K-12 was holding herself accountable.
"You don't have instructors that you're with all day, every day of the week. They're available to you, yes; but for the most part, you have to be motivated to complete your assignments and be available for exams."
Green said she did struggle that first semester, setting aside the excitement of not having to go to the traditional school and learning how to structure things on her own. She says her mother did encourage and support her, but that she did leave Green's success up to her.
"One benefit I did see is that it opened up my time to explore and find out who I am, what I wanted to do with myself once high school was over," Green said. "Also, it motivated me to figure out what I wanted to do next. It reminded me that I'm accountable for whatever I want to accomplish. Those two were probably the biggest benefits to me.
"I also felt I could be proud of where I graduated. It was nice when someone would ask about high school, especially an employer. That would also spark the conversation, 'Oh really? I didn't know they offered that program!'"
Green emphasizes she had a very positive experience with TTU K-12, an "accomplished
"I never felt like I didn't have the tools to get it done. There was never a time that I called or came up to the office that there wasn't someone there to help me," she said. "I had the tools to be successful, and I had people there to help me succeed as well. I had never done anything like that, I was just a teenager."
Green says it also gave her freedom to do things in a different timeframe, that she felt more in control of what she was doing.
"Instead of the small cliques you find in high schools (and in a small town, they're even smaller) I started going to a youth group that exposed me to all different kinds of people – who were much more accepting – some in similar situations of doing school at home. I really came out of my shell, so that was a real golden moment for me. I was not only changing my educational path, but I was changing my social one, which really needed a lot of work."
While she was attending TTU K-12, Green also worked at USA Relay (Communication Service for the Deaf), exposing her to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. She said without TTU K-12, she might not have had that exposure because she wouldn't have been working if she had attended a traditional school.
But it was being in the environment of Texas Tech University, working for SBS that gave her the idea of actually going to college. She noticed that many of her peers were in classes, and of course her department has a lot of student workers.
"I hadn't really given the college atmosphere a lot of thought until I realized, if they can do it, I should be able to do it, too.
It dawned on me when I was looking through majors, that Texas Tech has an American Sign Language (ASL) program, which I was super-excited about. I really wanted to learn that, and this is about the only place that has a comprehensive set of classes nearby."
Her goal is to get her degree because a bachelor's is required to be certified for the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Also, Texas Tech University recently added an ASL/English Interpretation program, which further motivates her to finish her degree.
"I want to be an interpreter, not sure yet if I want that to be with a company or freelancing. I wouldn't be surprised if I found myself maybe coming back to Student Disability Services, because I'm already familiar with that"
Green also recently acquired two officer positions, as photographer with the Silent Raiders club and vice president for the Tech Deaf Culture Alliance.
For young students, or their parents, who may be contemplating this kind of junior high or high school program, Green has some advice.
"When they decide that this program would be beneficial and meet their needs, you don't have to worry about whether it will be worthwhile, because I'm sure the tools that are available now are way beyond the tools that I had. I'm very fond of my experience and I knew the place I was earning my diploma from was credible and had educational value. It was definitely a higher level of education than I was receiving prior," she said. "You will definitely get your value out of it, and positively will have the tools to succeed. All that's really left is for that person to decide IF this choice will benefit the life they're heading for."
Green said she feels like now, going through the experience of working at Texas Tech, now going to school there, for her was perfect timing.
"I know it all helped me get where I am right now, and it started with the high school. I feel really grateful. I feel more motivated and completely confident of the path I'm taking, and I did not have that assurance before I started going to school here."