Associate degrees

Students earn associate degrees from Killeen ISD

KILLEEN, Texas – In 2015, the Killeen Independent School District and Central Texas College partnered to open the first Early College High School in the Killeen, Fort Hood area.

Students of Early College High School have the option to leave high school with associate’s degrees and attend college debt-free. Almost 400 students have received their full Associate of Arts degree since their first graduation in 2019. Graduates like Caroline and Gabriela Garcia Rivera are the fruits of their labor.

It is the start of something new for the two sisters. Caroline and Gabriela recently explored the A&M-Central Texas campus for the very first time.

“So we’re here for orientation because we’ve both been accepted,” Caroline said.

Caroline will be studying English, while Gabriela will major in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Born in Puerto Rico, Gabriela said they would be the first in their household to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“We came here because my father joined the military for economic reasons,” said Gabriela. “We basically came here and found opportunities. So the Early College High School program came into play and so we took that advantage.”

As part of their orientation, they met academic advisor Hannah Dysinger.

While at Early College High School, Caroline and Gabriela earned their Associates degree from Central Texas College. Now they will complete the final two years of their undergraduate degrees at A&M-Central Texas.

Caroline said that this route has saved them thousands of people, as Killeen ISD paid their tuition, fees and required textbooks.

“In eighth grade before I was accepted to Early College High School, I remember the principal walking in. She was brand new and she was talking about how much money you’re going to save. It’s about $ 20,000 to $ 28,000. $, so I was like “Oh, really? I did not know. Let me try it out and see, ”Caroline said.

Double credit occurs in districts of Lone Star State, but as Dysinger will tell you, getting a debt-free degree with an associate’s degree, then earning your bachelor’s degree at a public university with one of the fees. lowest tuition in the state, is a pretty unique opportunity.

“It helps the students to be even more motivated to pursue their goals and because it kind of speeds up the process,” Dysinger said. “So it allows them to access higher education or a professional field more quickly. “

Taking a break at Coffee Beanery, the sisters reflected on the hard work it took to get here, balancing both college and high school. They said they would do it again in a heartbeat.

“It’s not easy to have all this homework to hand in, you know the final exams. It was certainly not easy, but it was totally worth it, ”said Gabriela.