Grads earn CMC associate degrees, high school diplomas this month
EDWARDS — Four local high school graduates will turn their tassels twice this month. Marisol Chacon, Reagen Gass and Tiffany Sheehy from Eagle Valley High School and Maria Villarreal from Battle Mountain High School earned their associate of arts degrees from Colorado Mountain College and walked in that commencement line on Friday. In about a week and a half, they'll receive their high school diplomas and a big head start on college. It's all part of the dual enrollment program. High school students can earn credit for college or vocational school in classes that also count as credit toward their high school diploma. In Eagle County, 329 students participated in dual-enrollment programs in 2012-13, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education. That puts the local school district in the top 10 in the state by a total headcount. Gass to study fashion Gass is headed to Los Angeles and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, site of "Project Runway" season six. "Every credit I took at CMC transferred," she said. "The amount I'm saving is ridiculous." Gass said she has always been interested in art and design. By high school, she knew she wanted to work in the fashion industry and started moving toward design school. Her teachers encouraged dual enrollment. "It helped to get (general education) courses done while I was here," she said. "Fashion is incredibly competitive, and getting a two-year head start is a real advantage." Gass plans to study textile design. "I'll be designing the fabric before the designers design the fashions," she said. Because she has completed so many core requirements, she'll be able to dive in to her area of interest right away. And she is clearly excited about her school of choice and with good reason. "Tim Gunn is one of the curriculum directors out there," she said. Chacon a year early Chacon is not only getting a head start on college, she's finishing high school a year early. She earned her high school diploma and her associate of arts degree in three years. She began taking CMC classes as a freshman. She starts at Colorado State University in Fort Collins this fall and plans to major in psychology and business. "I wish I could have gone on to university a year ago," she said. Her hope is to land a marketing job after graduation. "I took a psychology class at CMC last summer, and it reaffirmed what I want to do," she said. Chacon said that taking dual enrollment classes streamlined her path through high school and forced her to think about her major sooner than most students leaving home for college. For her, the hard work and busy schedule definitely paid off. "I have the first two basic years of college done, which will save me a lot of money and time," she said.