CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Education

May 28, 2014

More students graduate WSCC Fast Track Program

HANCEVILLE — Weeks before area high schools held their graduation ceremonies, dozens of students had already made a big dent in their college education

Through the Wallace State Fast Track Academy program, 48 students are as much as a year or two ahead of their fellow high school graduates in their collegiate career. Many earned a diploma or certificate, even an associate degree, from WSCC. After graduation, some plan to continue at Wallace State to finish their program of study, while others will transfer to a university, where they will have a head start on their bachelor’s degree.

The program continues to grow each year, and students are achieving unprecedented success.

This year’s graduates were offered almost $400,000 in scholarships and the group includes a National Merit Scholar, a class valedictorian and many are among the top 10 of their high school’s graduating class. Of the 48 graduates, 27 attended classes at Wallace State’s Hanceville campus while the remainder attended JB Pennington’s College Within a High School program.

Fast Track Academy falls under the umbrella of Wallace State’s dual enrollment program, which serves approximately 400 high school students. Fast Track gives juniors and seniors from area high schools, as well as home school students, the opportunity to obtain their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credit or even a certificate or an associate degree. Students in the Fast Track Academy, however, take all their classes, including their high school classes on campus at Wallace State or at JB Pennington.

Kristi Davis of Vinemont High School chose to attend Fast Track Academy to get a head start toward her ultimate career goal of becoming a doctor.

“Since I’m going into nursing and going to be a pediatrician, I figured I’d might as well start early,” she said. She was still able to participate on the school’s volleyball team — which was her favorite part of high school — and worked at Sonic to pay her tuition.

“I tell everyone to join Fast Track,” Davis said, adding that several of her teammates also joined the program. “It’s well worth it,” she said.

Davis earned a General Education certificate from Wallace State and received Super Scholar Transfer Scholarship to UAH, where she will begin her studies in nursing.

Mahaley Motzkus of Cullman High School earned an Associate in Science Degree in General Studies from Wallace State and will transfer to Auburn University in the fall, where she will also pursue a nursing degree.

Getting a head start on her college education was also the reason Motzkus said she chose to attend Fast Track. “I just wanted to get my degree done,” she said. “I wanted to get ahead of everybody.”

She said another CHS graduate who went through the program convinced her to give Fast Track a try. “I loved it,” Motzkus said.

She said she was still able to participate in extracurricular activities at Cullman High School and enjoyed the college schedule as opposed to a high school schedule. “It was definitely a plus, because you got out of classes earlier,” Motzkus said.

Motzkus kept up with her responsibilities as a member of the CHS Student Government Association and as a class officer. She also served with the Wallace State SGA and was a class officer for Fast Track. Plus, she held a job at Grand Pointe Pharmacy.

Micah Waters of Cullman High School said he chose Fast Track in hopes that it will help him more quickly obtain two degrees in half the time. Waters is working toward a career in law, and was awarded three scholarships he’ll use as he transfers to Auburn University where he’ll major in accounting and information systems management. Waters earned the Spirit of Auburn Presidential Scholarship from Auburn University, the Presidential Scholarships Technology Stipend and the Larry and Margaret Quimby Endowed Scholarship.

“Fast Track has been great for me in so many ways,” said Waters, who served as the Fast Track class president. “It’s taught me how to be independent and taught me better study habits and just made me a more efficient student and a more efficient person.

“I have to say thank you to all of the teachers at Wallace State,” Waters added. “Not just the teachers in Fast Track. I’ve had great teachers from Dr. (Glynice) Crow for economics to Dr. (Lee) Walton for ethics. There’s just too many to name, so many great teachers who have made an impact on me. It’s always been great to see that at Wallace they take the time to cater to each individual student and really make sure that we have the best experience.”

John and Dr. Glori Short of Cullman enrolled their two daughters in Fast Track Academy. Patton attended her senior year and graduated in 2013 and Hayden graduated this year after attending her junior and senior years.

“I don’t think it’s for all kids,” John Short said. “If they’re going to do it for college prep, they need to be mature.”

One year after graduating from Wallace State’s Fast Track Academy and high school, Patton is a rising junior at the University of South Alabama, where she has applied for their nursing program. Hayden will be heading to the Coast Guard Academy, where she will have an edge over her classmates who have not had any college experience.

“It was a great opportunity for us,” John Short said. “Like everything else, it’s a tool and you can make as much of it as you want if you put forth the effort.”

Short said he could see where Fast Track will continue to grow and how it can be especially beneficial, not only for students looking to get ahead before transferring to a university, but also for students interested in technical fields and career prep, putting them in the workforce at an accelerated rate.

Students interested in enrolling in the Fast Track Academy can apply spring semester of their 10th or 11th grade year. For consideration into the program, students must have completed at least 12 high school credits, have a GPA of at least 3.0 (a B average), and a score of at least 20 on the English and math portions of the ACT (or a comparable COMPASS score). If all requirements are met, students should complete the first half of a two-part application and submit to his/her counselor. The counselor and/or principal will then finish the remainder of the application, which serves as a recommendation for the student to enter the Academy.

For more information about Fast Track or Dual Enrollment, call 256-352-8051 or visit www.wallacestate.edu.

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