Over 60 students celebrated earning their high school diploma along with college credits or degrees through Mount Wachusett Community College’s dual enrollment programs Friday night.
This year’s graduates of the Pathways Early College Innovation School and the Gateway to College program were recognized during the May 19 graduation ceremony at MWCC. The programs are offered in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, the Athol Early College Experience and the Robinson Broadhurst Foundation, Inc. Career Tech Scholarship Program. They allow students to use school choice funding to earn their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credits, an academic certificate, or an associate degree.
Gateway to College Valedictorian Eden Shaveet left traditional school at the age of 14 and never thought she was going to get her high school diploma let alone her Associate’s degree that she earned through the program. During her speech, Shaveet highlighted the need for continued support for programs like Gateway to College.
“In the absence of such programs, I would not be where I am today and the fact that we have to fight for these programs is absurd,” said Shaveet. “Programs like Gateway to College catch us before we fall to barriers in our way… I am eternally grateful to Gateway to College and Mount Wachusett for providing these opportunities where otherwise none would exist.”
Shaveet reclaimed her education at the Gateways program and exceed all expectations, achieving recognition on the President’s List for maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her entire college career and becoming an integral part of campus life as a Student Leader in Civic Engagement. She will be attending Elms College in the fall to pursue her baccalaureate degree.
Pathways Early College Innovation School Valedictorian Faith Kurtz is graduating with a 3.98 GPA. She has been accepted to attend WPI this fall to study Electrical Engineering.
“My professors here have been kind, reasonable and understanding people who have my best interests in mind and many have gone above and beyond,” said Kurtz.
In addition to her academic achievements, Kurtz threw herself into the community and logged over 200 volunteer hours in her first six months; embracing the motto that you won’t start succeeding until you start doing. She hopes to continue giving back to her community through engineering after finishing her studies at WPI.
“Every student here deserves the success they have because they have earned it … You can’t fake what you have done,” said Kurtz. “To everyone in the audience – thank you for supporting these outstanding individuals and I would ask you to continue supporting them in whatever their next endeavor is.”
Keynote speaker MWCC President James Vander Hooven encouraged the students to listen and contemplate their interactions with others because there is no telling what words will prove influential.
“Write these things down and learn strategies by incorporating them into your life,” said President Vander Hooven.
In closing, the president added his own words of advice and encouragement to the graduates.
“Don’t over complicate your lives. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. Congratulations to each and every one of you. We are so proud of you,” said President Vander Hooven.
Established in 2010 as one of the first two innovation schools in Massachusetts, the Pathways Early College Innovation School provides motivated high school juniors and home schooled students the opportunity to accelerate the pace of their academic. MWCC’s Gateway to College program, established in 2005 as the first Gateway site in New England, provides a second chance for students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school, are at risk of dropping out, or experienced a setback, as well as an opportunity for home schooled students to complete high school and college studies.
The Gateway to College graduates were:
Mary Grace Daly
The Pathways Early College Innovation School graduates were:
Athol Early College Experience
Jay Pereira (Robinson Broadhurst)