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Anthony High School student finally gets diploma after dropping out to support family during pandemic

Edgar Dominguez shows his diploma as he stands in front of Anthony High School.
Edgar Dominguez shows his diploma as he stands in front of Anthony High School.

ANTHONY, Texas -- At the age of eight, Edgar Dominguez says he began helping his dad's construction business. The scorching heat and intense labor did not discourage him from working in construction as a teenager. When his family of 11 contracted Covid-19 in 2020, he juggled multiple jobs even though he was a high school senior already falling behind in school.

“No one in my family was working. I was the only one who didn’t have Covid-19, so I started working mechanic jobs,” Dominguez said.

“I stopped attending school. My mom told me we were receiving phone calls because the school wanted me to go back, but I didn’t have time. I worked day and night," Dominguez said.

Dominguez thought school was easy, but he was failing his classes since he was not doing the work. He had promised his mom he would obtain his high school diploma even though he did not believe it was crucial for his future since he already had a job.

Prior to the pandemic, he contemplated expanding his father's business. As his family battled the virus, he saw no choice other than become the family's breadwinner. When his cousin wanted to join the U.S. Navy, Dominguez re-evaluated obtaining his high school diploma.

“I saw that I needed to have the diploma to have a lot more opportunities since I wanted to join the Navy with my cousin and be an underwater welder,” Dominguez said.

“I ended up telling the district about the situation. They helped me out so much because they were willing to work with me."

AISD Human Resources Director and former Anthony High School Principal Fernando Garnica was behind the house calls.

"On many occasions, I went to their house and met with the parents to let them know how important it was for Edgar to finish school," Garnica said.

It took multiple calls, home visits, parent intervention and a wakeup call about career opportunities before Dominguez called the district to finish his credits. Garnica worked with high school counselor Rebecca Saldivar to divide the schoolwork for Dominguez.

“We have a credit recovery program, which allows the students to complete the work at their own pace. We give them two or three courses at a time so it’s not as overwhelming," Garnica said.

“We felt it was important to work with Edgar. Financially, the family was in a tough situation. We knew that Edgar had to work to help them and we commend the sense of responsibility that he has towards his family," Garnica said.

Dominguez received his high school diploma on July 9 in a small ceremony held at Anthony High School. His mother, Sandra Flores, said she felt proud to watch her son fulfill his promise to her and set an example for his younger siblings. Dominguez is now in the process of joining the Navy.

(Editor's note: The narrative for this story was provided by AISD.)

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