Nine graduate from college before high school

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When Suffolk Public Schools students walk across the stage next Saturday to graduate, nine of them from Lakeland and Nansemond River high schools will already be college graduates.

Nine students participated in the dual enrollment program and have already graduated with their associate degrees, putting them about two years and untold dollars ahead of their peers on the college journey.

“It’s a big relief, knowing that you got all your general education studies out of the way,” said DeVon Morris, who attends Lakeland High School. “When you get to your university, you can jump right into your major studies. It saves a lot of money, too.”

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Morris said the Upward Bound program in which he participated was the inspiration for him to do the duel enrollment program.

“The instructor, Travis Parker, he really pushed it for students to further their education before they went off to college,” Morris said.

He thanked Parker and the co-instructor, Angel Cashwell, for encouraging students to excel.

“The college tours they go on, it really helps students get a feel for college and where they want to be after high school,” Morris said.

Morris plans to attend North Carolina A&T University in the fall and major in mechanical engineering. He hopes to work on some means of transportation, whether it be designing or hands-on.

Like Morris, other students said they felt accomplished and relieved to have half of college done already.

“It feels great knowing that I got it under my belt,” said Aaliyah Simms, who also attends Lakeland. She is also the first person in her immediate family to get an associate degree.

“It lets me know I can do anything I put my mind to,” she said.

She was also inspired to do the dual enrollment program by participating in Upward Bound.

This fall, she’ll enter Spellman College and hopes to major in philosophy or writing. She wants to be a lawyer and also own her own film production company. She has a lot of goals.

“I plan on accomplishing them,” she said. Her advice to other students considering the dual enrollment program: “Make sure you take the classes seriously, so everything you learn will stick like peanut butter,” she said.

Victoria Aberle is a Nansemond River High School student and said it is a relief to be done with her associate degree and high school at the same time.

“It’s so much more financially smart to have finished off my associate’s before I even leave high school,” she said.

She also feels like an inspiration to younger students — two in particular.

“I feel kind of inspirational, because I have two little sisters,” she said. “It always feels nice when there’s a reason for someone to brag about you.”

She did the dual enrollment program, because she needed more of a challenge than her regular classes. She found the International Baccalaureate program was not for her and needed more stimulation when she got back to her home school. Then she found out that she could take college classes while still in high school.

Aberle said she did most of her courses online, so there wasn’t a lot of traveling involved.

“I highly suggest it,” she said. “As long as people study and really want to get their associate degree, it’s 100-percent possible.”

Aberle plans to go to James Madison University to study international business. She was inspired by her mother, who owns a coaching and consulting business.

“I knew I had the potential to work with higher-ups with different countries and work in foreign affairs and stuff like that,” she said.

Derek Leggett, who also attends Nansemond River, said he entered the dual enrollment program to save money and time.

“I feel fairly accomplished just to get a lot of college out of the way,” he said. “It cuts a lot of time off. You just save a lot of money and time in the end.”

He originally wanted to major in engineering, but several of his dual enrollment courses got him interested in the health care field. Now, he plans to attend Old Dominion University in the fall and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. He plans to continue his education and get a master’s degree to become a nurse anesthetist.

“I do not regret it whatsoever,” Leggett said of cutting half of the time out of his college career. “If you have the time and the money to invest into this, you can definitely get it done.”

The full list of Suffolk Public Schools students who completed degrees and programs at PDCCC this year is as follows:

Associate of Arts and Science Degree:

  • Victoria Aberle
  • Imani Garde
  • D’Avion Godwin
  • Tallyah Larrymore
  • Jevedia Martin
  • DeVon Morris
  • Aaliyah Simms
  • Derek Leggett
  • Tamia Copeland

General Education Certificate:

  • Adele Ruffin
  • Deja Batten
  • Victoria Aberle
  • Imani Garde
  • D’Avion Godwin
  • Tallyah Larrymore
  • Jevedia Martin
  • DeVon Morris
  • Aaliyah Simms
  • Derek Leggett
  • Tamia Copeland

Career Studies Certificate in Early Childhood Education:

  • T’Asia Copeland
  • Sherice Fleming
  • Alexis Godwin
  • Karisma Mitchell
  • Brittany Parker
  • Courtney Tynes

Career Studies Certificate in Emergency Medical Technician, Basic:

  • Angela Bardelli
  • Donell Blount
  • Jasmine Bryant
  • Tyler Bunch
  • Gabriel Combs
  • Sierra Eure
  • Ben Hayes
  • Donnie Hoskins Jr.
  • Lanasia Johnson
  • Stacie Riddick
  • Mikaela Shivley
  • Josie Twiford
  • Kemaney Bilbry
  • Marisa Blackniak
  • Lauren Hagberg
  • Charnise Knight
  • Kevin Martinez
  • Kendra Moore
  • Travis Morton
  • Logan Oaks
  • Mariah Pope
  • Austin Robinson
  • Dionna Scott