Earning your high school diploma is a testament to 13 years of hard work. This year, eight Reynoldsburg High School Seniors took extra steps to graduate high school with not only their diploma, but an Associate’s Degree as well.
Isaiah, a senior at RHS’ BELL Academy, earned his Associate’s Degree in Arts from Columbus State Community College. The College Credit Plus program allowed him to pursue a degree while saving both time and money. “The CCP/CSCC partnership has helped my academic career tremendously,” said Isaiah. “I feel that because of this partnership, I've had the chance to learn about so many things that I may not have gotten the chance to learn about in a traditional high school experience. Not only that, but my high school GPA has increased exponentially because of how well I've done with the CSCC courses. With the partnership allowing students 30 free college credit hours per year, it really takes off the stress of the financial cost. I know that I basically got my associates degree at no cost, I only had to pay for one course due to maxing out the free 30 credit hours; however maxing out is usually unlikely.”
Isaiah plans to attend Capital University this fall, where he will matriculate as a junior. He will complete his Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies in two years, as 100 percent of his credits transferred.
Isaiah plans to be a business lawyer, as he enjoys working with contracts, negotiating deals, and “talking business,” he said.
If he isn’t planning out his career, during his free time, Isaiah enjoys writing, listening to music and working with fashion.
Rebekah, a senior at RHS’ eSTEM Academy didn’t even know earning her Associate’s Degree was a possibility until last summer. “I decided to take a couple of fun classes because of COVID and scheduled my senior year along the final credits I needed,” she said. “Senior year, I was able to take all science classes, ones that would not have been offered at the high school level, and it helped me to solidify my interests and choice of major.”
Rebekah credits the College Credit Plus/Columbus State Community College partnership Reynoldsburg City schools has in place for their students on her success. “The CCP/CSCC partnership has done so much for me academically,” she said. “I took my first college class my freshman year, and loved the ability to continue taking challenging courses throughout high school.”
This fall, Rebekah will attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham to study Immunology. The majority of her credits will transfer in, allowing her to earn her Master’s Degree in Immunology in four years. She plans to use her degree for research and go into pediatrics.
When she isn’t studying, Rebekah is a competitive gymnast. She also plays the piano and is in the National Honors Society, robotics and loves science fiction.
John, also an RHS eSTEM Academy senior, earned his Associate’s Degree from COTC in Software and Programming Development, with honors. “I have had a fascination for computers and how they work,” he said. “I've been like that since I was little, I can remember at a young age taking apart electronics and building things and my parents coming home and asking what the heck did I do, but that allowed me to learn and try to understand what computers do at a younger age. My driving motivation is that love for computers, which is why I set the goal for me to get my associate's while utilizing the CCP program.”
Eventually, John plans to attend a four-year college but wants to gain work experience and explore tuition assistance. With about 60 credits, he will enter college as a junior.
“The College Credit Plus program has given me a great opportunity to get my degree while also getting high school credits,” said John. “I've gotten my degree from COTC, originally I was put into classes through our partnership with them then I started researching what classes I needed to take then ended up working with my COTC advisors and my counselor, and was able to get it to happen. I have to say as well every step of the way my advisors were helping me achieve this goal and my counselor was very flexible on making sure I was able to do this.”
For fun, John helps his friends create a multi-media production company. “I’m their tech guy,” he said. “I help design websites, with technical problems and teaching them how to code on their own.”
“John and Rebekah are both amazing individuals,” said RHS eSTEM Academy Principal, Scott Bennett. “Not only are they fantastic students, but the perseverance and grit that it takes to earn these degrees is a testament to the kind of people that they are. I am so proud of each of them and very appreciative of our partners at COTC and CSCC that work so well with our students to provide them with these opportunities. John and Rebekah are going on to great things!”
Kayli is a senior at RHS’ (HS)2 STEM Academy. She made the choice as a freshman to pursue her associate degree when she became aware of the on-campus classes offered. “My mother went to college and warned me of the overwhelming debt that she engulfed herself in,” she said. “As I want to be a surgeon, which requires eight years of schooling in total, I knew that this would be the best route for me.”
“The CCP/CSCC staff and professors have been there for me every step of the way for the past four years and I cannot thank them enough,” Kayli said. “My advisors gave me all of the knowledge, steps, and checklists I needed to achieve my goals and the professors that I have had over the years were very clear with their expectations and some of the best teachers I could've hoped for. Columbus State made it very easy and clear what I needed to do and in what order. “
Kayli has been accepted to The Ohio State University as a Biology and Pre-Med student. She is enrolling as a junior. She plays softball for RHS, and loves hitting the batting cages to let loose or have fun.
RCS’ Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Jocelyn Cosgrave
, knows the rigorous coursework and planning and everything that these students put in to earning a secondary degree in high school was no small feat. “We are proud of the hard work our RHS graduates displayed to graduate not only with a high school diploma, but an Associate Degree in 2021.,” she said. “We are thankful to our post-secondary partners as well as to our Raider staff, and the students' families for their flexibility and support for these students as they finished their work despite a global pandemic. We know that this wonderful accomplishment is a direct reflection of both our Investing in Innovation grant work,
and our long-standing partnerships with higher education institutions in Central Ohio. Reynoldsburg City Schools continues to be a trailblazer to support students who are ready for such ambitious and rigorous coursework, and we know that our brilliant scholars will continue to set the tone for dual enrollment opportunities for our future graduates in the coming years.”
Davion, a senior at RHS’ (HS)2 STEM Academy knew he wanted to have a career in the medical field and used the CCP program to start his schooling early. “College Credit Plus has helped me begin my medical journey early,” he said. It helped me create good habits that will be vital in my upcoming academic years.”
Davion plans to attend Ohio University and study to be a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon. Since all of his CSCC credits transferred, he will start college as a sophomore. For fun, he likes to play basketball, practice suturing, fish and spend time with his friends, family, and ferret Rico.
Fikir made earning an Associate’s Degree a goal of hers as she knew she wanted to take college courses but wanted a strategy behind her reasoning. “I didn’t want to take classes for the sake of it,” the (HS)2 STEM Academy Senior said. “By making an associate's degree a goal of mine, it helped me plan a layout of classes to take that would help me substantially decrease my future course load and financial burden.”
Financially as well as the easy access of the CSCC Campus at Livingston made the decision easy for Fikir. “It gave me a chance to receive college credit and my associate's degree without paying a dime or having to go very far,” she said. “Plus, the location of the Reynoldsburg regional center allowed me to efficiently combine my college classes with my high school classes."
Fikir is entering The Ohio State University as a junior where she plans to major in Biology on a pre-med track. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering and spending time with her family.
Susma wanted to pursue her AD to prepare herself for the college workload. The senior at RHS’ (HS)2 STEM Academy said, “For instance, time management, setting my priorities straight, and improving my academic skills early on. I also realized that this would challenge me. I grow and improve into a better version of myself every time I decide to take on a challenge, and that was my goal.”
“CCP courses were very beneficial for my academic goals,” said Susma. “I was able to take on challenging college courses and complete high school requirements at the same time. It gave me more time to take more classes, and more time to focus on just my college courses.
With her credits from her AD, she will earn her Bachelor’s in Sociology in two years from The Ohio State University. She loves spending time with her friends and family and cooking.
Fatima knew that knocking out credits and earning her A.D. in high school would put her ahead of the game in the future. “The CCP/CSCC partnership helped me achieve so many academic goals like gaining leadership positions, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and receiving a full ride scholarship,” said the (HS)2 STEM Academy senior. Fatima plans to attend Boston University and major in Psychology with a minor in business and education/human development. “My Associate’s Degree itself holds a lot of weight especially for someone who’s just coming out of high school. I plan this summer to get either an internship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital or a job with my A.D,” she said.
Fatima likes to read, spend time with family and friends and enjoy nature. She also works on a non-profit with her friends called Project Black Lyfe.
“I, as well as the (HS)2 STEM Academy staff, are beyond proud of Fikir, Davion, Kayli, Susma, and Fatima for earning this extraordinary achievement of obtaining their Associate's Degree as graduates of Reynoldsburg High School,” said RHS' (HS)2 STEM Academy Principal, Garla Brown. “In addition to them being amazingly caring, respectful, and responsible individuals, they are also hard-working and resilient young adults. I am also thankful for our partnership with Columbus State Community College, which has been instrumental in helping to make this happen, and looking forward to seeing the impactful contributions that Fikir, Davion, Kayli, and Susma will make to the community, as well as the health and human services professions.”
Peer Advice to Earn Your Degree:
If you think you would be interested in working towards an Associate’s Degree, be sure to talk with your principal, counselors and others who can provide support and advice along the way. Our seven grads have some advice as well:
Isaiah: “GO FOR IT! But be prepared to put in the work! Be prepared to give up your time and energy. For example, I could've easily graduated in my junior year in high school, but I chose to stay one extra year to put in the extra work to earn my A.D. I even took courses that summer to help earn enough credit hours. The CCP/CSCC partnership is a wonderful opportunity that I believe every student should take advantage of. Whether you plan to go to a four-year university/institution after high school or not, it is awesome to have college-level experience under your belt. Even if you don't finish the Associates Degree, college courses look really good on your transcript. If you do plan to go to college after high school, (depending on where you go), you can save so much time and money on undergrad just by using Columbus State. It is literally free college at your fingertips, take advantage of it!”
Rebekah: “Go for it! Take a class to challenge yourself and find your interests. Look at these classes as a challenge, and work to achieve your goals. Though hard to learn, it's also important to keep a healthy balance of classwork, extracurriculars, and free time.”
John: “Always see if there are any high school credits that you need and if there is any overlap with your degree you would like to get. Even if you don't get your degree by the end of your senior year you will still have your general education classes done and those help you work towards your goal. I would also say to watch how much you schedule yourself to not be overworked. Another big thing is to always be on top of your email and talk to your advisors as much as possible to make sure you're on the right path and that you are on track, basically I learned it never hurts to ask a question.”
Kayli: “As for any underclassmen even considering taking CCP courses, I highly recommend looking into it. I know it is common for high school students to look at the courses and think it's too difficult or too much work, but I promise it's so worth it in the end. Not only would you be saving thousands of dollars to get it out of the way now, but you will be gaining both high school credits and college credits simultaneously. Additionally, the experiences at Columbus State whether it's at the Reynoldsburg Campus or Main Campus is truly something you don't want to miss out on. You will gain new friends, study buddies, and an arsenal of teachers/professors that can guide you and give advice whenever you may need it.”
Davion: “For underclassmen my best advice is don’t be afraid to start early and get informed. Starting college classes early in high school can be scary and feel like it’s too much at first but as with starting a new part of your journey you will have to adapt and figure what works best for you. Also, with starting your college classes, you will be an adult and will have full responsibility for your future. With this be sure you get informed on everything you need to get done and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Fikir: “For underclassmen planning to get their associate's degree, I would stress the importance of planning flexibly. Whether it's planning a timeline or planning future courses, it’s always good to have a backup for if things come up, courses aren't available, etc."
Susma: “My best advice for underclassmen is to be sure you're ready to take on the challenge. CCP courses are great, but it also has cons. In all honesty, it can be very difficult a lot of times. However, you have to pace yourself. It can also be time consuming. You may need to make some sacrifices. But it is beneficial in the long run. You meet a lot of new people, and you network with professors who can assist you in the future as well.”
Fatima: “Go for it! Taking the college classes is similar to a high school course however some classes do have a little more coursework. These classes will push you to extents that you didn't know existed inside of you.”