Two years of college, free. That’s what 53 high school students in Person, Caswell, and Orange County aimed for and achieved throughout the last two years, saving thousands of dollars in college tuition and fees and positioning themselves to reach their educational and career goals faster.

Piedmont Community College’s (PCC) Career and College Promise (CCP) Program is developed for students to complete 30 credit hours of college by the time they graduate high school. If that student chooses the CCP College Transfer Pathway, they would have around one year of college complete and save $2,280 in tuition and fees from PCC. If they choose to go to a university instead, earning one year of college credit could save $8,000-15,000 or more.

“Career and College Promise is an immeasurable tool for high school students to utilize,” said Leia Rollins, Coordinator, College High School Programs at PCC. “Students have the option to save so much money and time and they can begin to work in their career that much sooner because of it.”

“These students have the option to focus on the College Transfer Pathway if they seek a Bachelor’s Degree or higher or they can complete certifications in our Career Technical Education pathway to begin working immediately after they graduate.”

Since 2020, PCC has been working with local high schools to develop a CCP “fast-track” option for students who want to complete their high school diploma and Associate Degree simultaneously. Schools such as Person High School and Bartlett Yancey Senior High School in Yanceyville, NC are implementing this option, while students from other schools accepted the challenge under their own accord.

The Class of 2022 had 53 students from six separate institutions graduate from high school and PCC simultaneously, with more than 900 others earning college credit and saving more than $650,000.

The four homeschooled students who completed both are Katie Brooks, Macie Gresham, Aubree Gunter, and Samuel Recicar.

The four Roxboro Community School students who completed both are Azaria Burton, Andrew Durand, Courtney Hackett, and Gavin Yarborough.

The 12 Person High School students who completed both are Hannah Brann, Kyndall Holt, Jacie Kennedy, Justice Lawson, Jamie Martinez, Deshawn Myers, Austin Oakley, Madison Peoples, Tolon Rogers, Seth Wilborn, Amiaya Williams, and Colton Wrenn.

The 12 Bartlett Yancey Senior High School students who completed both are Perla Bautista, Devin Davis, Celina Henderson, Faith Johnson, Brendan Nunnally, Kaitlyn Oakley, Bliss Pointer, Elizabeth Proctor, Eric Rone, Caroline “Faith” Upchurch, Wallace Vaden, and Dylan Wall.

The 19 Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership (PECIL) students who completed both are Sarah Alcantara, Jonathan Bradsher, Kayla Edwards, Yesnia Garcia-Licea, Natalie Garrett, Delaney Griffin, Paiton Gunderman, Jontae’ Johnson, Kenya Jones, Michael Keeton, Zachariah Lunsford, Diavionce McGhee, Brandon Mejia, Caleb Mize, Olaa Moazeb, George Powell, Courtney Shelton, Kania Stewart, and Cedric Wood.

Spencer Terrell was the only student outside of PCC’s service area that also took advantage of this program, earning their Associate in Science from the College as well as their high school diploma from Eno River Academy.

While these students will greatly benefit from completing two years of college, any student who completes college credits while in high school still profits from utilizing the CCP program. Rollins said every bit counts, but what is most important is that the students feel comfortable as they learn.

“The last thing we want to do is push these students to take on more classes than they can handle,” Rollins said. “We want them to feel secure in their studies and we want them to enjoy being a student. While the fast-track option is an incredible tool for these students, every PCC course they complete while in high school is a success that should be celebrated because they’re that much closer to completing their degree or starting their career.”

The Career and College Promise Program is tuition free for high school juniors and seniors. This program enables students to reach their career goals faster by receiving course credit toward an Associate Degree, and/or Certificate toward an entry level job.

Courses in the Associate in Science or Associate in Arts program transfer to any of the 16 North Carolina public universities, as well as many private universities, if the student earns a grade of “C” or higher. Students can also earn state or national credentials through the Career Technical Education Pathway.

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