EDGE - Earn a Degree, Gradute Early, at Union Public Schools will target first-generation college students, those who come from families who have had no experience with college or expectation that their children will attend a university.
Student Reflection on EDGE
“I like EDGE: Earn a Degree, Graduate Early, formerly known as Early College High School, because it gets the pre-requisites out of the way so I can go right to the courses related to my major in college."
- Erin Hillhouse 2022
"Being in EDGE: Earn a Degree, Graduate Early, formerly known as Early College High School, has helped me step into my adult life before even graduating high school; I’ll leave Union High School with an associate degree and a developed understanding of how to be successful in college courses while maintaining a part-time job, family duties, and any other obstacles I may face."
- Alyssa Warren 2020
“EDGE: Earn a Degree, Graduate Early, formerly known as Early College High School, helped me get once step closer to my dreams. I am, and always will be, beyond thankful for the amazing opportunity I was given to further my education by receiving my associate degree while still in high school."
- Kimberly Ibarra 2020
“EDGE: Earn a Degree, Graduate Early, formerly known as Early College High School, through a series of events, contributed greatly to my development of becoming the person I wanted to be. The entire program, from the students and teachers I interacted and formed relationships with, to the challenges that I had to tackle when transitioning in the very beginning and again when social distancing practices went into place. EDGE is the reason I applied to colleges and a huge contributor to me making it through high school due to my own desire. The program helped me see my full potential was greater than I previously believed and I could reach it if only I tried my hardest to meet the challenges thrown at me day in and day out. Earn a Degree, Graduate Early is why one of my favorite words is “kaizen,” the idea of changing for the better.”
- Aaron Chambers 2020
“Being accepted into EDGE: Earn a Degree, Graduate Early, formerly known as Early College High School, is an opportunity I’m thankful to be a part of. This program helped me to step out on faith and challenge myself, provided me with a jumpstart in college, and allowed me to alleviate some of the parental financial responsibilities towards continuing my education. A quote that resonates with me during this journey is, “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” (Maya Angelou)
- Keirsten Metcalf 2022
“Tulsa Community College has not only allowed me to develop skills that many students my age simply don’t possess, but also, TCC has put me a step closer to becoming a pediatrician."
- Bryan Flores 2020
“I am really glad I started my college courses in high school because it helped me get a head start on my college education."
- Sloan French 2020
“My experience has been a very fun and enlightening time getting to know the life of a teacher. I learn new things every day. Some of the things I have learned are classroom management skills, flexibility, lesson plans, etc. One of my favorite parts about my placement is getting to know the kids and working one-on-one with them. Another one of my favorite things is helping the kids with their writing. Overall, I believe my experience will be beneficial to my career later in life.”
Amber Bitely 2018
“I have truly enjoyed being able to go to the veterinarian for my fifth and sixth hour classes every day. I get to interact with many different types of pets, whether it be dogs, cats, bunnies, or bearded dragons, each with their own personality and needs. I love being able to follow Dr. Huckaby and Dr. Fisher into every room and watch surgeries take place, all while learning how to better take care of animals. It is challenging to deal with some of the owners who don't always believe us the first time we say something, or who want to question the DVM's knowledge of their pet. Another reason I love being able to be at the vet every day is because I am getting firsthand experience five years before I am even able to go to veterinary college. I am also able to find out tricks and tips that will help me run a better veterinary hospital when I am able to own my own practice.”
Faith Brown 2018
“Some good things I have learned is how hard it is being a preschool teacher. I am very fortunate to have such strong patience because all 22 of my kids can be extremely chaotic. What I love about working with four- and five-year-olds is the fact I am able to help morph their young minds and teach them words and numbers. I get so excited when they are able to count to high numbers or read books or know all the days of the week. I'm extremely blessed to be able to work with children. They are God’s gift and I am so ecstatic to watch them grow as human beings.”
Precious Calhoun 2018
“My experience at this clinic has by far been the best experience in my school career. I've always had a strong passion for animals, and being able to be with them and help them every day is an absolute dream come true! Volunteering for this clinic and getting to really know the veterinarians/vet techs really gives a good start to a professional career. Since September, the clinic workers have really grown to trust/like Sarah and I. They said once we have more free time, they will happily give us vet tech jobs. I'm so thankful to be in a school that offers this program so kids can really get hands-on and to learn what they truly want in life, at such a young age. Thanks for being such a big part of an amazing program. I've told so many juniors and sophomores to check this out.”
Emily Childress 2018
“My placement is with Dr. Ahmadinia at the Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center (EOOC) at St. Francis. I have learned to read x-rays and MRIs and plenty of things about the spine. Some challenges have been remembering what motion limitations point toward what problem in the back. I really value this experience because it has allowed me to learn and see so many things that I didn’t know would be possible for me before going to college. I also like that this experience has worked to confirm that this is the field that I want to go into.”
Mariana Enriquez 2019
“A good thing I have experienced at my placement is getting offered a job at the veterinary clinic. Another good experience is being able to interact with the bird, Joey. Some challenges I have faced is getting dogs under control because some are very aggressive. I am very glad I have had this experience because it will help me when I apply to other veterinary programs. I love my placement and enjoy going there every day!”
Madison Goff 2018
“I have really enjoyed my placement working with a physical therapist in Broken Arrow schools. We travel to elementary schools and middle schools to give therapy to students with special needs and disabilities. My supervisor is keen on patience, and she has really shown me ways to be patient and changed my approach when helping out kids. I love listening to the way she talks with kids and how she makes it fun and easy for them to improve. This has been my first semester in the program, and I have already seen so many improvements among her students. It truly is awesome the changes I have seen!”
Josie Hawley 2018
“My favorite thing about my placement is it has helped me find what career I want to pursue. The children there are so sweet and love having me around. One of the patients asks me every week about all of my friends who have also volunteered at the hospital. It's so sweet to see how much I actually mean to them. The most challenging part of my placement was when I played Bingo with a girl from Jenks. I knew her story before she even came to the hospital and it had touched my heart so much I had to hold back tears when she introduced herself. This placement taught me that everyone should have the opportunity to live their fullest life no matter what disability they have. Everyone has the ability to live and have fun.”
Chasity Henderson 2018
“My placement is Pet Pro, and I enjoy it a lot and learn a lot. I learn about the different ways you have to take care of each of the bays, the salt water, fresh water, and the brackish tanks. It is a challenge for me from time to time because I do not know everything about the fish and every kind of the fish so I have to ask questions a lot. I learn how to feed different fish, change protein skimmers, clean the tanks, & so much more. I have definitely learned a lot about the marine life and I know it will help me in my future.”
“My job-shadowing placement is at Happy Hands. I work with deaf and some mentally and physically impaired children. I love my placement because I am with babies from 6 weeks old to 2-year-olds and they are all so intelligent and I enjoy playing with them. When I get there its naptime and most are asleep, and the ones that are not, I play with in a play area that they have for the babies. We sing songs and play with books and balls and I teach them to walk or stand and crawl upstairs; it is amazing to see that even though they have these disabilities they still act as normal kids. The struggle, though, is that it’s already hard enough to communicate with babies in general because you don’t know what they are trying to say, but with special needs children, it’s even harder to communicate. It is also hard because not everyone is on the same page. Some babies will be asleep while others want to eat; but if we let those babies eat while the others are asleep, then there will be no food left, so we have to wait while the others cry and scream for food. Overall. I love my placement and I’m happy we found it.”
De’Andrea Pete 2019
“Some good things about my apprenticeship are that I learned about time management and the importance of creative thinking. I had to find a storage and checkout systems for several items, like drawing tablets, cameras, and headphones. I had to find a way to store them all in a lockable filing cabinet. I also learned how to operate a big vinyl cutter, a 3-d printer, a t-shirt press, and the basics of Adobe Illustrator (to design things for the vinyl cutter).”
“I love my placement! I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life until I started going to McAuliffe my junior year, and after a few weeks, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Fast forward to this year and now I'm at our new school Ellen Ochoa Elementary, and it couldn't be any better! I love the kids, the staff, and my supervisor Mrs. Mack. The only challenge I face is leaving them. Service learning has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in high school, because it helped me figure out my future!”
Rachel Dodd 2018
(These appear on the front section of the ESCH section.)
“We are excited to create an early college high school pilot program at Union Public Schools with a strategic emphasis on recruiting ‘first generation’ college students. TCC has been a terrific partner in offering concurrent enrollment opportunities at Union Collegiate Academy, and this is the next step in the evolution of that program. By offering high school students the chance to earn an associate degree, I believe we can grow the pipeline for students entering college and improve Oklahoma’s graduation rates. Ultimately, it is our hope that this pilot program will become the model for how Early College is implemented across the state.”
— Dr. Kirt Hartzler, Superintendent, Union Public Schools
“As the leader in Oklahoma with nearly 2,000 concurrent students, we believe this pilot will serve as a statewide model for how students can complete high school and college. We know from TCC’s numbers that students who take college courses while still in high school are more likely to graduate high school and earn a college degree. This is the first pilot of its kind in size and scope in Oklahoma, and it involves the third largest college and the sixth largest high school in the state. We are very excited about what this means for our students, our community and our ability to produce high school and college graduates ready for the workforce.”
— Leigh Goodson, Ph.D., TCC President & CEO
“In the 21st century, a broader range of [employee] skillsets are needed. We are moving into an era where creativity and intellectual capital are more valuable than they’ve ever been in our history. So having a program at Union that is preparing high school students for success on a collegiate level is a tremendous step forward for us as a city, for having a workforce that can help companies grow.”
— Mayor G.T. Bynum, City of Tulsa
“There are several challenges that first-generation students face. One is they can’t call their parents and say, ‘What did you do when you hit this bump in the road in college?’ College completion is a nationwide issue, so providing additional support to students when they hit those bumps is necessary and it’s anticipatory. I believe Early College High School at Union will greatly improve college persistence rates.”
— Stacy Schusterman, Co-Chair, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
“Many students are unsure whether they have the ability to be successful in college. The best early college programs that I’ve seen start early in building up that confidence. They prepare students by teaching them study skills. They raise the rigor in high school courses so that students are well prepared to do the college work, so they see success after success. Then they feel good about going off to college when they’re finished with high school.”
— Mary Cantrell, Associate Professor of English/George Kaiser Family Foundation Faculty Endowed Chair of Concurrent Enrollment, TCC