Ellie McCully plans to graduate from Montezuma-Cortez High School in May. But when McCully, 18, walks across the stage at Panther Field, she will be more than just a high school graduate.
McCully, daughter of Walter and Catherine McCully, is enrolled in classes at Southwest Colorado Community College, and her hard work and dedication have led her to the point that when she graduates from high school she also will hold a certificate in creative communications.
It was only my intention to take a couple of classes, McCully said. But then my professor brought it up that if I take some of these classes this semester, I could walk with a certificate.
McCully is taking web design and desktop publishing classes from SCCC professor Melinda Green. The classes, along with her certificate, will aid McCully in finding a future career.
The classes will give me some background knowledge on what I can and cant do, McCully said. It will help me push forward for more education and complete my dreams and goals.
Those dreams and goals include the completion of an associates degree and the establishment of a small business.
Im still working on all that, McCully said. I dont know exactly what I want to do, but Im learning the skills that will help me no matter what I decide.
The local community college has provided McCully with a variety of options in pursuing higher education.
(The school) is very professional, McCully said. At the same time, it is small enough to help you and make sure you get the attention you need. You know those professors will be there to help you whenever you need it.
By the end of spring semester, McCully will have completed 18 hours worth of credits at the local community college, a feat all the more impressive when paired with McCullys course load at M-CHS and 15-hour-per-week work schedule.
The busy schedule makes it difficult for the ambitious student to manage her time, but McCully said the balancing act has taught her skills she will use in the future.
I have to balance the work load between college and high school classes while also balancing work, McCully said. But Im setting myself up for real life. Im trying to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.
The opportunity for McCully to take classes at the community college is due in large part to the fact that the local school district picks up the tab for tuition costs for concurrently enrolled students.
They only thing I have to pay are the books and fees, so that makes it easier, McCully said.
McCullys education will also be covered next year, thanks to Colorados Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment program.
ASCENT will allow me to take another year of courses, McCully said.
Concurrent enrollment is becoming increasingly popular among high school students, who see the benefit of completing general education courses at little to no cost. This year, 80 M-CHS students are taking college-level courses offered at the high school and 19 students are travelling to the community college for classes each week.
It is a great start in college, said Sara Broersma, a social studies teacher at M-CHS. It helps students complete a lot of prerequisites.
For McCully, concurrent enrollment has allowed her to test her boundaries and move forward in life faster than she thought possible.
Taking the classes has showed me you can do anything you set your mind to, McCully said. If you set your feet into the water and wade out slowly, you can do it.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at email@example.com.