By Todd Kleiboer, DISD Communications Specialist
Amid the sea of brown and white caps at the 2022 Sherman High School graduation, two navy blue caps stood out.
On the podium, SHS Principal Jenifer Politi waved them to their feet.
“These graduates are part of our Bearcat Collegiate program and they’ve already earned their associate degree from Grayson College,” Politi said to cheers from the packed Bearcat Stadium. “What an achievement, and we are very proud of you.”
Grayson College’s blue caps belonged to Daniela Vera and Reagan Kingsbury, who are both part of the SHS Class of 2022 and Grayson College Class of 2022.
In Vera’s case, she was browsing TikTok videos the summer before her freshman year and landed on one that encouraged high school students to take as many dual-credit courses as possible. With that in mind, she emailed her counselor and signed up for three, including English I.
“English lessons were never my strong point and I was afraid to get into English at university so early,” Vera said. “But my teacher was super nice and very understanding that we were all high school kids. She took the time and effort to go slow and made sure we understood everything.
On her way to an associate’s degree, Vera had the support of her sisters, who were enrolled at Grayson at the same time. Whenever she was confused, she always asked her sisters for help first, and when Vera took the stage at Grayson, her sisters were there to guide her as fellow graduates themselves.
“It was a lot less nerve-wracking when I went there with my sisters,” Vera said. “I didn’t know what to do when I got there, so having my sisters there was very comforting.”
Now that her foundation courses are complete, Vera is heading to Stephen F. Austin University to major in biology and minor in psychology, her goal of becoming a pediatrician. She encouraged anyone thinking about dual credit enrollment to get started as soon as possible.
“Some people think you have to be incredibly smart to get into this field, and personally I didn’t think I was the smartest in my class, but I still have to do it,” Vera said. “This opportunity is welcome for anyone who has the ambition and wants to do it.”
Kingsbury joined Bearcat Collegiate in his second year after hearing about it from his mother. It “sounded perfect,” he said, and he wanted to do everything he could to set himself up for future success.
“Now I’m able to get my bachelor’s degree in just three years,” Kingsbury said. “If I was doing an arts degree it would be two, but since I’m doing a science degree it’s three.”
With the goal of becoming a genetic engineer, Kingsbury changed her degree to Associate of Science with the help of SHS Senior Advisor MaryAnn Hill. While this helped him get a better academic trajectory, the change also meant he had to take a mini-semester in British Literature.
“We had to read a book every week and write an essay every week,” Kingsbury said, confident writing wasn’t his forte. “It was the ultimate test.”
However, the more difficult science courses were welcome, such as Chemistry II. While his high school classes prepared him well for Chemistry I, the senior college class was all new material.
“At the end, we were talking about nuclear fission. It evolved quickly,” Kingsbury said. “I was more keen to learn it because I have to apply it later in life, but it was still a lot of complicated information.”
Now enrolled at the University of Texas at Dallas for the upcoming fall semester, Kingsbury thanked Hill and former dual credit coordinator Kristy Dozier for their help, especially at the end of his high school career. He also thanked his parents who showed unwavering support throughout the trip.
“It’s a lot of work,” Kingsbury said. “But in my mind, it was totally worth it, because you’re one step ahead of everyone else in your class.”