New program helps Durham high school students graduate with college degree

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Wednesday, May 24, 2023
More Durham high school students eligible for college degree
The new partnership between DPS and DTCC means hundreds of students will graduate high school with a college degree as well.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Public Schools and Durham Technical Community College are teaming up.

This new partnership means hundreds of students will graduate high school with a college degree as well.

Yanice Gibson is the first person in her family to earn a college degree and it means a lot.

"Being a first-generation student and proving to myself, to my family, that I can do it and I can further my education, I can become something I can do more," Gibson said.

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She, along with classmates like Zlata Bogdonoa De Carvalho, will graduate Wednesday with a high school diploma and an associate's degree. They're both students at Middle College High School in Durham; there they take both college and high school courses on the campus of Durham Tech.

"I will be graduating with my associate's in general education nursing degree and I cannot be more happy or proud," De Carvalho said.

Durham Public Schools announced it plans to expand the program that De Carvalho and Gibson took advantage of. Starting this fall, 11th Graders at Riverside High School will have the opportunity to take college courses from Durham Technical College without leaving their high school.

College professors will come to the students eliminating barriers such as tuition and transportation

"We have set an ambitious goal of having 25% of Durham Public School students within the next five years graduate either with a certificate or a degree," explained Durham Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga. "That means more than 500 students each year will graduate with such a degree in addition to their high school diploma or credential that will enable them to enter the workforce immediately."

The collaboration gives students different options after high school: Continue on to college or enter the workforce.

"We are giving our students the option of choosing a career path that is suitable and desirable for them and that suits their needs," said Dr. Abraham Dones. He's Durham Tech's Vice President and Chief Student Services Officer.

"Many times students may be coming to this experience thinking they have one option or one route. This exposure will provide them the opportunity to consider some other careers that may not have been a topic of conversation for them prior to this type of experience," he explained.

"It's a win-win all the way around,"' said Dr Ernest Grant, with Duke University School of Nursing

Grant, who is also the past president of the American Nursing Association, applauds DPS and Durham Tech's collaboration.

He sees it as an opportunity to get more young people in the nursing field. That could help address a critical shortage of about 15,000 nurses in North Carolina

"I think it's a great model. It has been used across the country and has been very successful," continued Grant. "It's a way to add to the numbers of nurses that are so sorely needed, not only the clinical setting at the bedside but in other areas of healthcare as well. So it's a great way for a student who feels that nursing is their calling."

Grant said students like De Carvalho can take their associate's degree and begin working as a nursing assistant while continuing college to become a registered nurse.

"It's a great way for them to apply what they've learned and sort of have on the job training, if you will, and then they can easily transition from the role of nursing assistant into the role of the registered nurse, which is what a lot of nursing students tend to do."

Durham Public Schools said it plans to expand the opportunities with the program even further in the future, meaning more schools will likely be added to the program.