Dual Enrollment Students Graduate with Associate Degrees Before High School Diplomas

Dual Enrollment Students Graduate with Associate Degrees Before High School Diplomas

Holly Vincent
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 12:00 AM
Academics, Community

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Julianne Carter and Savannah Buffington are not your normal community college graduates. They are dually enrolled home schooled students who graduated from Cleveland State Community College on Saturday with associate degrees before they officially even graduate with their high school diplomas! Both girls received medallions honoring students completing a post-secondary credential while still in high school.

“Since establishing the Tennessee Valley Early College at Cleveland State, these are the first two students to complete an associate degree as high school students,” stated Dr. Bill Seymour, CSCC President. “We are very proud of their dedication and commitment to advance their education and careers. We look forward to our first full cohort of Cleveland High School students completing TVEC next May.”

“I knew I had a lot of credits and realized I was just one year away from my associate degree,” stated Carter. “So, I decided that would be better than just getting a bunch of dual enrollment courses that would transfer to another college. I knew a degree would be more beneficial for me, so I decided to go that route.”

Carter said she is very pleased with her experience at CSCC. The small classes allowed her the opportunity to get to know her instructors—instructors that her mother helped her pick through ratemyprofessor.com. She credits a lot of her success to both the support from her parents and good instructors along the way.

“I really enjoyed my classes with Mrs. Hilliard, Dr. Paul and Mr. Gerber. They were so nice, easy to talk to and understanding. With them, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and they always worked with me when I needed it.”

Carter said because she was able to get to know her instructors, she was able to get help on other things, as well. Brian Gerber, Assistant Professor of Speech, even helped to prepare her for an interview for a scholarship after the semester had ended and her class was finished.

“He worked with me and gave me ideas for things to say during my interview so that I would be more prepared, and I really appreciated that.”

Carter will be transferring to Lander University in South Carolina on a rugby scholarship in the fall where she will complete her bachelor’s degree in biology. Eventually, she would like to pursue her doctorate in veterinary medicine.

She is the daughter of Jason and Christy Carter of Athens.

Buffington said she has always wanted to pursue her Ph.D. and at the age of 14, she learned that her A.C.T. scores were high enough to enroll in dual enrollment courses once she reached the appropriate age.

“I didn’t want to waste the opportunity to get my associate degree early,” stated Buffington. I just knew that it would make everything a lot easier.”

Like Carter, Buffington had a lot of positive things to say about her experience at Cleveland State, in particular the Honors program with Dr. Victoria Bryan.

“The Honors program was probably my best experience at CSCC,” stated Buffington. The students were a lot more engaged than my other classes. It was a lot of fun being able to interact with people who genuinely care about their classes. The way the honor’s classroom is set up, is so much better for student engagement and communication. You are a part of a big group rather than an individual, which I liked... I would highly recommend the Honors program to others.”

Buffington continued, “Cleveland State is a really good school, and I have so many feelings about graduating. I’ve been so happy here. I’ll really miss it. I have made all of these connections and friendships with people, even the faculty and staff. I was scared and nervous at first, but I have gained so much confidence. The instructors have really supported me and have pushed me to do my best on assignments. You can see their dedication; they truly care about their students in a way that I have never seen.”

Although she has had interviews with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and many others, Buffington is still undecided on a major and a college where she will transfer. Because of this, she plans to take a year off to build her resume by doing some volunteer work and researching career options. She has interests in civil rights law and women and gender studies, but at the same time, does not want to give up her dream of becoming a writer.

She is the daughter of Harley and Jennifer Buffington of Cleveland. 

Photo 1: Savannah Buffington of Cleveland.

Photo 2: Julianne Carter of Athens.

Julianne Carter




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