BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Over 3,000 UTRGV graduates are set to walk the stage and celebrate their commencement ceremony this weekend with many students excited about this milestone. 

“I’m hopefully going back to school but this time as a teacher now and so I’m really excited for that,” said Lidya Michelle Leija who graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics.

Leija said this accomplishment was years in the making. Now that her time is here, she wants to give back to the community through teaching. 

“I know math is a subject that not a lot of people like, even me at some point in my life I didn’t like math at all and now I do and it’s because of one teacher that I had so I hope I can be like that for other students,” said Leija.

Behind many graduates are those who motivate the. Leija tells us her grandfather played a big role in getting her to the finish line. 

“My grandpa was a teacher in Mexico and he was a really known teacher over there like schools will always want him to go to their schools and teach them so I grew up and I seen him do that,” Leija said.

While some students say the past few years were difficult to get through because of the pandemic, many used this opportunity to get a head start.

“We actually live up in Dallas, Texas. I think my mom heard about this program over Facebook and COVID had just started. Everything was online and the MSA was offering a really great online program so we thought we’d give it a shot,” said Kaitlyn Thomas, who’s graduating from the Mathematics Science Academy.

Kaitlyn and her twin sister, Jaclyn Thomas, are just 16 years old and already have 80 credits towards their Bachelor’s degree. 

“Us being able to get those credit hours made it helpful just for the future,” said Jaclyn.

UTRGV’s commencement ceremonies continue Saturday at the Edinburg campus where more students will be walking the stage.