Kishwaukee College early college program students graduate

DeKalb, Indian Creek high school students earn associate degrees in early college program

Calvin VanderSchee, Emily Frazier, and Theo Baird

MALTA – DeKalb High School student Calvin VanderSchee and Indian Creek High School students Theo Baird and Emily Frazier recently earned associate degrees as part of Kishwaukee College’s early college program.

The students received their diplomas at the college’s spring commencement ceremony May 18, according to a news release.

“We are so proud to support our dual-credit students and help meet their college needs. An invaluable benefit of taking college-level courses while in high school is it helps students make the transition to higher education at their own pace,” Michelle Rothmeyer, vice president of student services, said in a news release.

The students earned two years of college credits during high school. The program allows high school juniors and seniors to receive an associate degree by taking college courses at high school or the college.

“The early college program is an ambitious challenge for our district high school students. It is a great opportunity for students looking to get a head start on their college journey,” Colleen Tumminaro, director of dual credit and K-12 partnerships, said in the release.

VanderSchee earned a mechanical engineering degree through the college’s engineering, math and science academy. He will transfer to Purdue University to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“EMSA gave me college credit for courses that were not available at my high school. I also took dual-enrollment courses to transfer to [a] university. Community college tuition is substantially lower than university, so dual enrollment saved me time and money,” VanderSchee said in the release.

Frazier will transfer to Aurora University to pursue a biology degree. She also plans to attend medical school to become a sports medicine doctor.

“I decided to pursue dual-credit classes at a young age. Going into my freshman year of high school, I knew I wanted to go into the medical field. I was unsure of what, but I knew it would take a lot of school. Dual-credit and dual-enrollment allowed me to take some classes early, giving me a head start on my long journey of school,” Frazier said in the release.

VanderSchee and Frazier said taking college courses in high school was challenging and rewarding, and they recommended the option to other motivated students.

“Even though the shift from a high school classroom to college is hard, it was worth it. It taught me independence, responsibility and a good work ethic. I also believe this shift is worth taking in high school because it is a more supportive environment due to the small class sizes and extremely helpful instructors,” VanderSchee said.

“If you like to be challenged and know you have a lot of school ahead, take the opportunity. You won’t regret it, and you are setting yourself up for success,” Frazier said.

The early college program is Kishwaukee College’s most recent option for high school students to begin their college education. The college also offers dual-credit, dual-enrollment, career and technical education courses, and the Kishwaukee Education Consortium.

“The Kishwaukee College early college program offers many benefits to high school students,” Kishwaukee College President Laurie Borowicz said. “Data shows students are more likely to earn their post-secondary degree when they take college-level coursework while still in high school. The program helps students reduce the time it takes to earn their college degree after high school, so while their peers are still in college, these students are out working in their chosen profession. And one of the biggest advantages is the money saved in the process.”

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