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News from 2022-2023

Posted: March 27, 2023

Hard Work, Persistence Paying off for Two ECA Seniors

One heading to military academy to fence, other going to England to play soccer.

Eri McClain-Yu, left, and Eleanor Hynson

Eri McClain-Yu, left, and Eleanor Hynson

One has fenced her way into one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the U.S. The other is riding her soccer talents to a university in England.

The two Albuquerque Public Schools Early College Academy seniors are forging unique paths toward their impressive career goals.

Eri McClain-Yu, who discovered fencing at age 7, is heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. She was drawn to that school because of its “amazing fencing program” and because she ultimately wants to become a military lawyer.

“I knew that I wanted to attend a military academy, and I knew that I wanted to fence in college,” she said. “The Air Force Academy was the absolute perfect fit.”

Eleanor Hynson, who has been in soccer since she was 3, will be attending Northumbria University in England and playing for its i2i, or International Soccer Academy, affiliated team. She hasn’t visited the campus yet but is nevertheless excited about the opportunity to play soccer in Europe.

“This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said, noting that it literally gives her the opportunity to explore the world. “Now is the time for me to be able to do that.”

Hynson plans to major in sports management.

“I want to work in women’s soccer. That’s always been my goal,” she said. “I just want to be able to stay in the game and help people out and give them the opportunities that I’ve had.”

The two seniors were among dozens of APS students who signed letters of intent with college sports teams during National Signing Day in March.

Beyond their athletic prowess, both are “academic rock stars and exemplify our expectations for student-athletes,” says Patrick Arguelles, the principal at Career Enrichment Center & Early College Academy.

Hynson said Northumbria University reached out to her a year ago, and while she was initially excited about the prospect, she didn’t know how feasible it was.

“I had some long, hard conversations with my parents, and we decided that this is the way to go,” she said.

McClain-Yu fell in love with fencing “because it combines athletic speed and agility with implemented technique.”

Fencing, a combat sport featuring sword fighting, is a game of strategy.

“It’s a mind game as much as it is an athletic sport,” McClain-Yu says, adding that she’s been fencing for about 11 years.

“I started when I was 7, and I’ve loved it,” she said. It’s had its ups and downs, of course, but fencing has always been a part of my identity, something that I really love.”

But as much as she enjoys fencing, McClain-Yu has prioritized academics. And Early College Academy, she said, was the perfect school for her.

“The teachers here are so committed to each of the students, spend so much individual time with us when we need it, and really that devotion and steadfast commitment from all the teachers really helped me in my academic high school career, and it really set me up to be prepared to go to college and also to go to a military academy,” she said.

After graduating from the Air Force Academy, McClain-Yu is required to serve five years in the Air Force. She also plans to attend law school and become a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

McClain-Yu has advice for students hoping to get into a top school or to compete in athletics at the college level.

“Try your best every single day,” she said. “It’s the days that you don’t want to get up, it’s the days that you don’t want to get practice where your grit, your determination is really tested. It’s those days that make you the athlete and the student that you are, so try your best every single day, give your best effort and have fun with those around you."