Two years of college, free. That’s what 76 high school students 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 will complete around one year of college and save $2,280 in tuition and fees from PCC. If they decide to attend 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.”

In 2020, PCC has been working with local high schools to develop a CCP “fast-track” option for students who want to simultaneously accept the challenge and complete their high school diploma and an Associate Degree or curriculum certificate program. This program is now called the “Associates Pathway” for the Caswell County School District and the “College Prep Academy” for the Person County School District. These are partnership agreements between PCC and the respective district offices under the CCP umbrella. PCC and the district offices designed the programs so students only take PCC classes during their Junior and Senior years.

The Class of 2022 had 53 students complete this program; for the Class of 2023, this number increased by nearly 50%, with 76 total students from five separate institutions graduating from high school and PCC simultaneously.

The homeschooled student who completed both is Emmalyn Williamson.

The three Roxboro Community School students who completed both are Emily Rogers, John Stultz, and Lauren Talley.

The 16 Bartlett Yancey High School Students are Sami Asad, William Boaz, Gavin Bradford, Trace Goodman, Trey Hagood, Dakota Hampton, Kelsie Hooper, Jordan Johnson, Rebecca Lee, Emma Mitchell, Jason Myers, Landon Pruitt, Natalie Simmons, Ethan Strader, Grant White, and Ethan Wrenn.

The 26 Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership (PECIL) students who completed both are Kameryn Ash, Victoria Banks, Aerli Camarillo, Carson Duncan, Hannah Edwards, Angel Estrada, Symone Farmer, Calvin Glenning, Veronica Hannalla, Kye Harris, Andrew Hill, Madison Logan, Osbaldo Mejia, Liliana Mejia, Kyndall Norton, Mara Phelps, Sanai Pulliam, Kayla Rice, Lauren Richardson, Aniyah Thorpe, Christopher Thorpe, Caleb Tingen, Brianna Townsend, Trinity Tuck, Jake Vaughn, and Elanya Yancy.

The 30 Person High School students who completed both are Emma Bowes, Na’Kenya Braddy, Kelvin Burton, Gregory Chizhikov, Anya Cousin, Camryn Daye, Lucas Dunn, Hannah Evans, Delaney Fochler, Payne Garrett, Corie Hawn, Ava Holland, Davis Holt, Skyler Inman, Alexander Lopez Cuevas, Lindsey Melton, Ra’kira Nelson, Zane Oakley, Brett Purdue, Farrah Porterfield, Nathan Reaves, Constantine Roberts, Carter Stacey, Levi Strader, Zita Tong, Adrianna Toone, Paxton Tuck, Ty Watts, Jonathan “Logan” Whitfield, and Kryslin Wilson.

“I know what a challenge it can be to be a full-time college student, and many are active outside of school with things like work, sports, and music; I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Rollins said. “Whether they completed an Associate Degree, an industry certificate, or took a couple of college courses a semester, this is a huge accomplishment.”

While these students will significantly 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 it is more important 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 enjoy being students. While the Associates Pathway 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 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 and 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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