Kish Early College Program students earn both high school diploma, college degree

Three high school students walked across the stage to collect Associate in Science degrees during Kishwaukee College’s Spring 2024 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18. For Emily Frazier and Theo Baird, it may have felt like déjà vu. The Indian Creek High School students received their high school diploma six days earlier. Calvin VanderSchee, a DeKalb High School student, received his Kish degree before earning his high school diploma just a week later.


Photo Caption: Early College Program students Calvin VanderSchee, Emily Frazier and Theo Baird pose for a photo at Kishwaukee College’s Spring 2024 Commencement. Each student earned an Associate in Arts degree from Kish while finishing their high school diploma.

The three students completed two years of college credits while in high school. Kish’s new Early College Program helps other students do the same. The program allows high school juniors and seniors to work toward an associate degree by taking college courses at Kish or their high school.

“The Early College Program is an ambitious challenge for our district high school students. It is a great opportunity for students looking to get a head start on their college journey,” said Colleen Tumminaro, Director of Dual Credit & K-12 Partnerships.

VanderSchee utilized Kish’s Engineering, Math & Science Academy (EMSA) as he pursues a degree in mechanical engineering. He will transfer to Purdue University, where he plans to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

“EMSA gave me college credit for courses that were not available at my high school. I also took dual enrollment courses to transfer to university. Community college tuition is substantially lower than university, so dual enrollment saved me time and money,” VanderSchee said.

Frazier will transfer to Aurora University to pursue a degree in biology before transferring to medical school to become a sports medicine doctor.

“I decided to pursue dual credit classes at a young age. Going into my freshman year of high school, I knew I wanted to go into the medical field. I was unsure of what, but I knew it would take a lot of school. Dual credit and dual enrollment allowed me to take some classes early, giving me a head start on my long journey of school,” Frazier said.

With careful planning, Early College Program students can balance their high school and college schedules to achieve their educational goals. VanderSchee took classes on the Kish campus, at his high school and online. Frazier completed her college credits at her high school and online.

“We are so proud to support our dual credit students and help meet their college needs. An invaluable benefit of taking college-level courses while in high school is it helps students make the transition to higher education at their own pace,” said Dr. Michelle Rothmeyer, Vice President of Student Services.

VanderSchee and Frazier said taking college courses in high school was challenging and rewarding and recommend the option to other motivated students.

“Even though the shift from a high school classroom to a college is hard, it was worth it. It taught me independence, responsibility and a good work ethic. I also believe this shift is worth taking in high school because it is a more supportive environment due to the small class sizes and extremely helpful instructors,” VanderSchee said.

“If you like to be challenged and know you have a lot of school ahead, take the opportunity. You won’t regret it, and you are setting yourself up for success,” Frazier said.

The Early College Program is the newest of several options high school students can utilize to start their college education at Kish. The College also provides dual credit, dual enrollment, career and technical education (CTE) courses, the Kishwaukee Education Consortium and more.

“The Kishwaukee College Early College Program offers many benefits to high school students. Data shows students are more likely to earn their post-secondary degree when they take college-level coursework while still in high school. The program helps students reduce the time it takes to earn their college degree after high school, so while their peers are still in college, these students are out working in their chosen profession. And one of the biggest advantages is the money saved in the process,” said Dr. Laurie Borowicz, President of Kishwaukee College.

To learn more about Kish’s Early College program, visit kish.edu/earlycollege. To learn more about all Kish high school opportunities, visit kish.edu/creditinhs.

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For Immediate Release
Brett Herrmann
Kishwaukee College
Content Coordinator/Web Master, Marketing & Public Relations