Not many students know what they’re going to do early on in life but Guillermo Estrada did.
Estrada, 18, graduated with a high school diploma from the Wayne School of Engineering in December, a semester before the rest of his class.
He also received an associate in arts degree as well as a certificate of completion from the Honors Program at Wayne Community College with an honors graduate medallion.
Estrada was also a member of the WCC Global Scholars program and was the recipient of the college’s 2022 Governor Robert W. Scott Student Leadership Award, said Tara Humphries, WCC public information officer.
“Knowing in sixth grade, I knew I wanted to graduate with my associate’s by the time I got to my senior year of high school,” he said. “I just didn’t know it’d be that quick.”
The Wayne School of Engineering requires students to apply in the fifth grade and start in the sixth grade. While attending school, students can attend college at no cost for the four years of high school, which includes nearly two years worth of college credit, Estrada said.
“I owe it to my parents because they have worked so hard to be able to bring me up and make sure I have a quality education and the opportunities to succeed,” he said.
Estrada has been involved in the local community from a young age.
Since the age of 5, Estrada has been involved with the Wayne County 4-H development program, starting with summer day camps and then moving to the Decolores 4-H Club, a Mexican folklore dance group for youth from ages 10 to 16.
“That part of 4-H was a huge part of my life because it set me up to become club president,” Estrada said. “Then I became county council president, then moved into district (president), and eventually state (president).”
Estrada has been president of the North Carolina 4-H State Council, a member of the North Carolina Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, chair of the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair Junior Board, member of the Wayne County Junior Leadership Program’s Class of 2022, and a campaign intern for House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Goldsboro.
Estrada attended a 4-H Citizens Focus camp in Raleigh in 2019 and met Bell, which led to him working as a campaign intern for Bell in 2020 and 2022.
Later this month, Estrada will begin working as an intern with the North Carolina General Assembly.
The opportunities Estrada has had helped him develop his public speaking skills, allowed him to travel and make many different connections.
He has traveled for the National 4-H Congress, which is a national convention, where he was recently selected for the National 4-H Congress design team, or the planning committee, which only chooses eight children out of 800 from all over the country, he said.
The design team meets in February to create the theme and plan out the year for the following year’s convention, Estrada said.
“It’s really an honor to have been able to work with 4-H for so long,” he said. “It’s such a huge part of my life. It set me up to know what career I want to go into and created friendships and connections that will last a lifetime.”
But he will always be somewhere in the 4-H program as an alum, Estrada said.
Estrada plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree in corporate communications, public relations or political science, with a focus on public relations and media communications, possibly minoring in political science, he said.
Estrada has realized he does not want to run for office, he said.
“I like being liked and if you’re elected to office, you’re not very well liked,” Estrada said. “But I love to make people look good.”
One of the reasons Estrada enjoys the communication and public relations field is because of his interest in creating a positive image for someone, he said.
He plans to attend a university in North Carolina, since a lot of his college credits won’t transfer out of state from community college, he said.
Estrada has been around N.C. State University programs throughout his life because the 4-H Youth Development is funded by the university, he said.
He has had the opportunity to meet the chancellor when he was state president of 4-H, as well as meet the dean of the college of agriculture and he knows a lot of professors there already, he said.
“There’s that really big sense of community at N.C. State already,” Estrada said. “I really love the school but I also really love North Carolina.”
His top two schools of choice are NCSU in Raleigh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He is a semifinalist for the N.C. State Park Scholarship and the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, which each provide a full-ride scholarship.
Although he has been accepted to N.C. State University, he is waiting to hear back regarding his scholarships, Estrada said.
“I’m waiting to see how Morehead-Cain and Park Scholarship turns out,” he said. “I don’t want to go ahead and enroll because I don’t know which one quite yet. If I don’t make it past the semifinalist round, it’s all good but if I do make it past the semifinalist round, I want to keep my options open.”
He also applied to University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina Wilmington, East Carolina University and High Point University, Estrada said.