Three teenagers to graduate from college together before high school
In Alvin and Manvel, high school is no longer a place to only earn a diploma – it’s a place to earn a college degree. Due to a unique partnership between the Alvin Independent School District and Alvin Community College, three teenagers are graduating with an associate degree in May – nearly a month before graduating from high school. And, there are many more to come in the future.
On May 12, Shauna Humbird, Kyle Gaddy and Suzanna Sanchez will participate in ACC’s commencement. On June 5, they will receive their diploma from Alvin High School.
“Suzanna, Shauna and Kyle worked very hard throughout their high school years to earn an associate degree and diploma at the same time,” said Tina Martin, an ACC counselor based at AHS. “And with great efforts come great rewards; these three motivated individuals are going to benefit greatly from their accomplishments.”
All three students will be able to enter a university as a junior, with a majority of core credits completed. The endeavor also saved them – and their parents – thousands of dollars in tuition, fees and living expenses.
“I thought it would help me in the long run,” Sanchez, a 97-pound state powerlifting champion who broke three national records recently, said of deciding to enroll in the program. “I thought it would help me get out of college (bachelor’s degree program) faster and start my life faster.”
“I’m so prepared now; I think I can handle college (at a university),” Gaddy, a mechanical engineering major at the University of Texas in Austin in the fall, expressed. “I also know it saved my parents a lot of money.”
“I’ve always been on the accelerated program for my academic career that when the opportunity presented itself, it seemed like a good idea,” Humbird said. “The professors and counselor were really helpful and encouraging.”
Humbird’s father, Earl, was one of the AISD trustees to approve the dual degree program partnership with ACC in 2005.
“As a parent and school board member, I have first-hand knowledge of how much hard work and dedication that Shauna has put into the dual degree program,” said Earl Humbrid, who has served as an AISD board trustee for the past six years. “When this program was presented to the board, I thought what a great way for kids to get a big jump on their college education. I was even more excited when the board decided to put the program into the district’s curriculum because I knew that Shauna’s class would be the first one with the opportunity to go through the four-year program.”
“Through hard work, Shauna not only succeeded in obtaining her associate degree from Alvin Community College, but she is also set to graduate in the top 4 percent of her high school class,” he added. “As a parent, Shauna’s commitment to the dual degree program, while maintaining a 5.78 GPA (out of 6) in high school, makes her mother and me very proud. As a school board member, I am excited and proud that I had the opportunity to vote in a program that provided the opportunity to benefit not only my child, but every child in the Alvin Independent School District.”
The dual degree program provides a detailed plan for high school students to follow and guidance so they can earn the required credits for high school and college graduation simultaneously.
“Through the dual degree program, we wanted to provide students the major advantages of being able to graduate with their bachelor’s degree two years ahead of their peers, putting them in the job market earlier, earning job seniority and gaining extra years toward retirement contributions,” said ACC Dean of Students JoAn Anderson, who was instrumental in its development. “It just makes sense; the dual credit degree is inexpensive – some classes are even free, it is transferrable, and the community college experience gives qualified students a chance to ease into the rigors of a university.”
This is the second consecutive year that AHS students have graduated from the dual degree program. In 2011, seven more are scheduled to complete it. Next year, Manvel High School students are scheduled to graduate from the program, as well.
According to Martin, more students will begin graduating from the dual degree program since ACC counselors have been assigned to the high school campuses full-time. With ACC counselors placed full-time at Glenda Dawson High School and Pearland High School, teenagers also have the same opportunity in the Pearland Independent School District.
To complete the dual degree program, it is recommended that students begin taking college courses in the summer prior to their freshman year in high school and continue taking classes each semester and during the summer until their high school graduation four years later.
“This spreads out the college curriculum so it is easier to handle and allows high school students to fulfill their high school requirements and participate in extracurricular activities, as well,” Martin mentioned.
There are several steps required to apply for the dual degree program. First, a student and the parent or guardian should schedule an appointment with their high school’s ACC academic advisor.
A placement test is necessary and counselors can provide guidance and a review of the four-year high school/college course plan.
Following completion of the placement test, the student and guardian meet with an ACC counselor to discuss the test results and apply to the dual degree program if a passing score is earned.
The student is then responsible for registering for the required high school and college courses each semester. A counselor will review the academic progress and program commitment at the beginning of each semester.
Although the ultimate goal of the program is to earn an Associate of Arts degree at the same time as graduating from high school, there is no penalty for not being able to do so. Any courses that students are able to complete throughout the program can still be used toward a degree at ACC or transferred to another college or university.