COATESVILLE — While there have been times over the past three years when Stephanny Calle wondered how she’d manage to finish all of her work, today she’s about to celebrate both her high school graduation secondary and college. Calle, 18, is one of 26 proud Coatesville-area high school students graduating this year with a high school diploma and associate’s degree from Delaware County Community College (DCCC).
The largest number of “dual enrollment” high school students at one school graduated May 19 from the DCCC program, called Structured Pathways, ahead of high school graduation on June 9.
“Once I heard about the opportunity I thought it would be a great way to get a taste of what would be expected of me in the future,” Calle said, who lives in Valley Township and came to the United States from Ecuador when he was 3 years old. “I had all the resources and it was free, so there was really no doubt I wanted to try it out.”
Students enrolled in the Structured Pathways program as 10th graders, taking classes at the College’s Exton Center, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday, then returning to high school in the afternoon. To earn an associate degree, students take about 20 college courses, including philosophy, sociology, math, statistics, and psychology. The program is one of three high school dual enrollment programs offered by the DCCC. The program offers an associate’s degree in liberal arts that allows high school students to earn 62 college credits.
Many colleges and universities will allow students to transfer these credits, which will save them money and shorten the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. On average, students in the program earned a 3.53 GPA and 10 students received over $200,000 in college scholarships.
Coatesville Area High School Jaleah Bowman-Blanton received a full scholarship to Cheyney University, where she plans to study business administration and hopes to eventually become a forensic accountant, possibly for the FBI.
“It was very difficult, especially the first year since we were writing articles every week, in addition to trying to keep up with sports and high school,” Bowman-Blanton said. “I would recommend this program to anyone. I learned a lot about patience and how to be a good student. It’s a great experience and gives you valuable tools to give you a head start.
The Coatesville Area School District is covering the cost of the dual enrollment program, approximately $120,000 for the 2021-22 school year. Tuition, books, fees, and transportation are provided free of charge to students. Coatesville began the dual enrollment partnership with the DCCC in 2018.
“The experience our students gain in this program is simply invaluable,” said Coatesville Area Senior High School Principal Michele Snyder. “They learn essential academic skills, gain a sense of maturity and confidence, and many save thousands of dollars in tuition. The program has been such a success and we look forward to its continued growth.
The students graduated from DCCC on May 19, but will be honored at a special ceremony focused on the dual enrollment program on June 1.
Calle, who is attending Cabrini University in the fall to pursue a nursing degree, said it was particularly difficult to manage the program throughout the pandemic when many university courses were online.
“One thing I really learned is that it’s never too early or too late to achieve your dreams because at the graduation ceremony there were people of all ages. Anyone can do it if you really try. It’s a great opportunity. At the end of the day, all the hard work was worth it.