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CCRI honors this year's P-TECH, Accelerate dual-enrollment graduates

CCRI honors this year's P-TECH, Accelerate dual-enrollment graduates

Nine students from North Providence High School and 60 from various Providence Public Schools were honored Tuesday at a special Recognition Ceremony at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Providence Campus for completing two of the college’s beneficial dual-enrollment programs.

The nine NPHS students are graduates of the Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) program, a dual-enrollment program in which students from one of six partnering high schools enroll in courses at CCRI so they can earn both their high school diploma and associate degree over the course of four years for free.

The 60 Providence Public School students graduated from their respective high school this year as part of the college’s Accelerate program, a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Education, CCRI, Onward We Learn (formerly the College Crusade), and the Providence Public School Department to provide students the opportunity to earn up to 24 free transferable college credits before graduating high school. Their fall courses focus on fulfilling high school graduation requirements while the spring courses focus on a specific academic pathway selected by the student. The number of Accelerate graduates more than tripled this year after the program graduated 17 students in 2022, and 46 of this year’s 60 graduates have already committed to the college of their choice.

Tuesday’s recognition ceremony included remarks from student keynote speakers, CCRI President Meghan Hughes, Providence Mayor Brett Smiley, and North Providence Representative William O’Brien. Graduating from CCRI’s dual-enrollment programs took “a lot of hard work,” said President Hughes.

“It meant forgoing a traditional senior year – and all that comes with it – to get a jump on your college career. The sacrifices you made are worth it. Take pride in knowing in that when you cross your high school graduation stage in just a couple of weeks, you are already nearly halfway to your associate degree, and I know you are just getting started.

“Accelerate and P-TECH are shining examples of what is possible when policy leaders and educators collaborate with industry partners and community partners to build programs that benefit all students,” Hughes continued. “It shows that we are strongest when we work together and we’re invested in the success of students like each of the students we celebrate today.”

NPHS and P-TECH graduate Zoe Sekasula was first introduced to P-TECH while attending Dr EA Ricci Middle School in North Providence. “I was instantly hooked by the idea of getting a head start in a career field,” she said.

“[P-TECH] taught me discipline and responsibility of my own education, which would later help me manage a high school and college workload. It taught me perseverance, courage in facing difficult tasks, and it also taught me humility to be able to ask for help when I needed it,” said Sekasula, who is enrolling at the University of New Hampshire in the fall to study Computer Science and Cyber Security. “There isn’t a teacher in this program who wasn’t willing to help us achieve our goal in any way possible.”

Angely Ruiz, a senior at 360 High School who participated in the Accelerate program and will attend Roger Williams University in the fall to study Criminal Justice and pursue a career as a judge, immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States three years ago for the opportunity to “make my life better.”

“Accelerate helped to support me and strengthen my resolve,” Ruiz said. “I discovered what my learning style was, and classes eventually became easier for me. The support of my counselors, friends, and family has become invaluable. Without Accelerate, I would not feel as prepared as I feel now to go into college.”

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