Freshmen twins Madelene and Alexa Ruiz have been known to be on the fast track. Even their birth came a few months earlier than anticipated.

“When we were born, they told our mom not to look at the other babies because they didn’t want her to get scared,” says Madelene. “We were tiny, around 10 inches long.”

As students at one of Irving ISD’s choice schools, Singley Collegiate Academy, the two are now expediting the pursuit of their college and career goals and saving the money needed to accomplish them. 

Madelene wants to be an immigration lawyer while Alexa is toying with the idea of becoming a neonatal nurse, given their experience as preemies.

Thanks to a partnership with North Lake College, Singley Collegiate students have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and up to 60 college credit hours, equivalent to an associate’s degree, in the four years of high school. Best of all, this opportunity comes tuition-free.

“Since I want to go to law school, this is super helpful,” says Madelene. “The money I save can be used for law school. Plus, the first two years of college are the basics. You’re not really doing what you want, so it’s good to knock those [courses] out in high school.” 

“The earlier I finish the classes I have to take, the faster I can do the things I actually want to do,” adds Alexa.

The two enjoy reading and playing basketball and volleyball. They describe themselves as shy and competitive – but not with each other. 

Madelene says her stronger subjects are English language arts, while Alexa excels in math and science.

While the two have attended school together, and they each decided to apply for the rigorous collegiate academy, they remain flexible with their college plans.

“I mean, I would love to go to college with her, but if she gets a full scholarship or another amazing opportunity somewhere different, I’m not going to stop her,” says Alexa. “I want her to be happy.”

The two say they’d like to spend some of their “saved time” traveling – Madelene says Mexico is on her bucket list, while Madelene hopes to visit Japan. But their education is their top priority.

“The more education you get, the more you can do – travel, get a job,” says Alexa. “No one can pull you down.”

As students at Singley Collegiate Academy, they are well on their way to success – at a faster rate. 

Their mom, Christine Ruiz, agrees.

“I commend Irving ISD for providing this great opportunity for our students,” she says. “The Collegiate Academy is tuition-free, and all books are paid for. I have twins, and that means that I will have double the college expense. So this means great savings for our family.  It’s a win-win any way you look at it.

“Not only that, but I love that my girls are in a cohort with about 100 students and have administrators and counselors supporting and cheering them on throughout the process. My girls love their school and I do, too.”

To learn more about this choice school, visit