DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Only a senior in high school, Yanice Gibson secured an associate degree on campus at Durham Tech.
Now, she’s a first-generation college graduate.
“I really didn’t know that I would be here today,” Gibson, a student at Middle College High School, said. “I mean, I can’t see the future, but that was amazing for me.”
A number of Durham Public Schools students, including Gibson, who already take college courses, are set to attend their graduation on Wednesday.
“It’s a platform,” Gibson said. “You have something right in front of you, you just have to take it. That’s all you have to do and it’s whatever you make it.”
A new partnership between DPS and Durham Tech aims to provide 25 percent of the district’s students with a workforce credential or associate degree by high school graduation.
“I feel confident jumping into college-level courses at the university that I will be attending,” Middle College High School senior Zlata Bogdanova De Carvalho said at a press conference Tuesday.
It’s all free for the students.
The latest move will place Durham Tech instructors in DPS classrooms, as the current program is only located on the community college’s campus.
“We’re just bringing this to kids at their level, 11th grade,” Durham Tech College Recruitment and High School Partnerships Director Olu Ariyo said. “They still have a lot of their high school courses, so we’re just being more innovative.”
The goal is to ensure at least 500 high school students obtain one of the credentials each year.
“It’s amazing,” Gibson said. “It’s like two things in one and I’m not in debt. So I’m really happy about that.”
The program launches at Riverside High School next semester before it reaches the other high schools.