Great Expectations

lead image

First-generation college graduate Daniela Varela

This blog post is part of our celebration of charter school graduates across the country and their achievements. Join us in celebrating our #CharterGrads!

As a student at IDEA Public Schools, a great emphasis is placed on high expectations. IDEA believes that setting high expectations leads students to challenge themselves to meet each of them. In my experience, I have found this to be true.

I was born and raised in Weslaco, Texas. Though I was selected to attend IDEA while still in elementary school, I did not enroll until 6th grade. My first few weeks at IDEA were a challenge, but looking back I can’t help but smile at all of the moments I thought were so stressful at the time. In reality, IDEA set forth a challenge for me to become the strongest, most successful version of myself.

From keeping an agenda and being held accountable for my work to adhering to the IDEA 55—a core set of rules aimed at teaching each scholar the tenets of being a good citizen—we were always expected to be our best. IDEA’s core values of "No Excuses," "Whatever It Takes," "100 Percent Every Day," "Sweating the Small Stuff," "Team & Family," and "Closing the Achievement Gap; High Expectations" are deeply rooted in our schools.

At IDEA, every goal you set needs a plan. For every “what”, you must also know “why” and “how.” At first, it all felt like busywork, but looking back today it was charting the path for me to become successful in college and in life.

In addition to my three siblings, my parents also have custody of my three cousins. My mother works as a care provider. My father has a disability and is unable to work. With a large household, high expectations are a part of life. We are expected to help each other around the house. My father makes sure we have breakfast in the mornings and are prepared for school. School uniforms can be expensive, but my parents have always made sure each of us had what we needed.

I’ve learned so much by watching my parents work hard to be sure we have every opportunity available to us. They have worked hard and sacrificed for each of us and we are grateful for the rewards of their hard work and understand that we are expected to do something great with our livesthis is a huge motivation for me.

My parents didn’t go to college, but my older sister is a college student and I am proud to join her this fall as part of the first generation in our family to attend college. This April, I got to stand before my family and friends and hold my school’s banner high over my head as I declared that I will be going to college for college signing day. It was a proud moment for my family.

Thanks to a generous first-year scholarship, I will be attending the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and majoring in biology tuition-free. After my undergraduate career, I plan to go to medical school and study dentistry.

While high expectations and personal accountability are commendable, when I look back at my time at IDEA the biggest lesson I have learned is to know expectations make you better and help you accomplish your goals. I would not be who I am today without being a student at IDEA Public Schools. IDEA is a testament to how far I’ve come and how much further I expect to go.


Daniela Varela is a 2019 graduate of IDEA Weslaco. In the fall she will begin classes at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.


[Click to Tweet] Graduate Daniela Varela thanks @IDEASchools for instilling a sense of belonging and pushing her to work harder as she prepares to attend @utrgv #CharterGrads