Thanks to our ACA Career Coach at Goochland HS, Taylor Reahard, for this fantastic recent post to her blog with loads of info on the current policies on credit transfer at a variety of four-year colleges and universities.
Tomorrow night (Wed., Mar. 29th) at Reynolds, in Lipman Auditorium on the Parham Road Campus, come hear from several admissions reps from around the commonwealth about their institutions' policies on transferring credits earned through dual enrollment..
Last week, we were thrilled to welcome back two alumnae from the first two graduating cohorts of the Reynolds ACA at J.R. Tucker High School: Jordan Carrier (’15) and Logan Brown (’16). Jordan and Logan took time out of their Spring Breaks at the University of Mary Washington and The George Washington University to join us for a presentation to the State Board for Community Colleges. Here are their stories:
I was fourteen when I made the decision to join the inaugural class of the Advance College Academy and I can’t help but look back at that little girl and thank her for not doing what was easy, but what was best for her future. It would have been easy for me to continue with the International Baccalaureate Program, but I was intrigued by the opportunities this new program offered me. It seemed far-fetched, even impossible, that I could get a college degree while I was in high school and go into my four-year university as a Junior.
A few years later, I remember my first real college classes, and wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. But in retrospect, I was gaining such a valuable edge over other high school students. When I started my first year at the University of Mary Washington, my peers did not see the value in actually reading the assignments for class and had not learned how to write for college classes. What I had struggled through in high school I watched my new classmates struggle through in college, where other pressures and stresses were so much greater than in the safety of Tucker High School.
Every single credit I took through Reynolds Community College in the ACA program transferred to Mary Washington and counted toward my major and toward my general education requirements, allowing me to graduate this coming May. While it is bittersweet, graduating before everyone else my age, I am so much closer to accomplishing my goals than I would have been without this program. I have been accepted into the Richmond Law Class of 2020 and will begin a new journey there this fall. Also, as an Economics Major, I have a fuller appreciation for the financial benefit of cutting my undergraduate student debt in half.
The time and fiscal benefits of this program are easy to see. But I place so much more value on the skills I gained by being pushed toward excellence by our mentors and teachers. They instilled in me a drive to do my best work, a willingness to be the best I could be, and the overwhelming desire to make them proud of me. I hope that so far I have.
Jordan transferred 60 college credits from the Reynolds ACA to UMW and will graduate with a B.S. in Economics in May, 2017, after only two years at UMW. In August, 2017, she will begin law school at the University of Richmond on a full academic scholarship. She anticipates being able to earn her law degree at the age of 23.
In 2012, I accepted a position in Reynolds Community College’s Advance College Academy as a 13 year old middle school student. I was nervous about my decision, not because the reality of high school was quickly approaching but because the program was the first of its kind in Virginia and there were many questioning the likelihood of its success. Questions like “Are high school students capable of mastering college coursework?” and “How will the program experience and the degree affect them in the long run?” were primarily given answers that generally fell along the lines of “We aren’t quite sure yet.” While that answer may have deterred some, it interested me as well as my fellow classmates and we became a unique blend of trailblazers, pioneers, and guinea pigs over the course of our high school experience.
In 2016 I was a part of the second class that graduated from Reynolds Community College’s Advance College Academy with an AS in Social Science while simultaneously earning my high school diploma from J.R. Tucker High School. Today, 5 years after my decision to join the Advance College Academy in 2012, I stand before you as a freshman at The George Washington University studying International Affairs and Philosophy at the highly regarded Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington D.C. As an academic junior, I excel in my level 300 coursework. My professors frequently applaud the quality of work I produce and have extended a multitude of research assistantships to me.
While I believe that the ACA has more than adequately prepared me for college academics, to accredit ACA with only my academic success undercuts the profound impact that the program has had on my life. Professionally, having an Associate’s Degree in Social Science has afforded me access to a job market that eludes most college students until they have graduated. When I say this, I am speaking directly to my part time job as a legal analyst at the Council of Better Business Bureaus where I investigate trademark and copyright infringement matters with the purpose of increasing the trust between buyer and seller markets in the business economy. I am also qualified for a wide range of internships and will be researching micro-finance operations in Tamale, Ghana this summer.
ACA has clearly had a positive impact on my life, both academically and professionally. Although my experiences and opportunities are unique in nature, the ability to access and qualify for various jobs and internships is shared amongst all of my classmates who were in ACA. As a group, we graduated from the program well prepared for the job market and the continuation of our education due to the supportive structure and climate of the ACA program. The skill sets, friendships and networking relationships we have formed and developed over the course of our four years in the program are lifelong and will continue to impact us in the future.
In closing, I would like to thank the faculty of Reynolds Community College and the Advance College Academy for their investment in me at the age of 13, as they were confident that I would have a successful future even when I may have doubted myself at times. Reynolds Community College and the Advance College Academy have shaped and refined numerous students who will undoubtedly have a profound impact on their communities.
Because The George Washington University, a private institution, accepted 45 of Logan's college credits from the Reynolds ACA, she is eligible to graduate with a B.A. in International Affairs in December, 2018, after just two-and-a-half years at GW. Logan is electing to stay the full four years in order to earn two more degrees at GW: both a B.A. and an M.A in Philosophy. Armed with her associates, two bachelors and a masters degree by the time she is 22, she will then pursue her J.D. with a concentration in international and human rights law.
Reynolds College President, Dr. Gary Rhodes, sent the following email after last week's presentation:
I can’t express enough the pride I felt yesterday as I watched the ACA presentation to the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges. It was clear that the chancellor and state board members were all listening intently and interested in the great “jump start” that the program offers to our Reynolds students...As someone in a leadership role now as college president and often thinking about the future, it gave me a sense of calm to know that our future will be led by individuals of your caliber.
On successive evenings last week, the Reynolds Advance College Academies (ACA) held convocations in Lipman Auditorium for 123 high school juniors in the Reynolds ACA Class of 2018 at J.R. Tucker, Highland Springs, Goochland, and Powhatan High Schools. These students have completed one complete semester of Reynolds courses and they are on pace to become part of the Reynolds graduating class of 2018 by earning associate degrees concurrent with their high school graduation. Together they will comprise the fourth and largest graduating class in the history of the Reynolds ACA. We look forward to welcoming these students again in May, 2018 as they cross the stage of the Siegel Center. Congratulations, students, and keep up the good work!
The Reynolds ACA at J.R. Tucker HS (March 6, 2017)
The Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS (March 6 ,2017)
The Reynolds ACA at Goochland HS (March 7, 2017)
The Reynolds ACA at Powhatan HS (March 7, 2017)
One of the many exciting features of the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS, which graduates its first class of 18 students in May, 2017, is the Reynolds Entrepreneurship Program (REP), a novel student organization that combines members of the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS with adult Business Administration students enrolled on Reynolds college campuses. Students meet regularly to develop and share business plans and entrepreneurial ideas and to learn from members of the Richmond business community.
Recently, a team of five REP members, high school juniors and seniors in the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS, competed in the Virginia Entrepreneurial Challenge. Pictured below (l. to r.): Seth Savage, Cierra Huff, The Honorable Governor Terrence (Terry) McAuliffe, Brandon Lambert, Malik Grant, and Cheyenne Eames.
The team's entrepreneurial idea, according to Brandon Lambert (Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS Class of 2017), is an app that would enable college students with similar study characteristics (e.g., preferred group size, subjects, environment, location) to meet up to form study groups. The app would be sold to universities directly (with a pricing structure based on institutional size and retention rate) and incorporated into the technological resources already made available to students. "I felt like I knew how to present but this competition took me to the next level," Brandon said in an interview. "I now know the difference between a good presentation and a winning presentation."
Below, Cheyenne Eames snaps a selfie with the governor.
Below, Cheyenne Eames and Cierra Huff observe the competition.
For more information about REP, contact Professor Maxie Cannon at email@example.com.
Raven Witherspoon, member of the Class of 2017 of the Reynolds ACA at J.R. Tucker HS, was recently named the Correspondent of the Day by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her letter to the editor, written the day after the 2016 presidential election, shows a remarkable level of perspective of the type we've come to expect from Raven and from ACA students in general. Check out Raven's letter here.
Raven is applying to Penn, Duke, and the University of Virginia, and considering careers in Physics, Aerospace Engineering, and Journalism. We have no doubt she will be a successful part of whatever campus she joins next year.
Our hearts are heavy upon hearing the news of the recent passing of Angela Johnson, mother of Highland Springs HS senior, Christopher Thaxton. Mrs. Johnson's spirit infused the family atmosphere of the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS. She was a fixture at every open house and orientation from the beginning of the program's existence, always sharing her hospitality, great food, and wisdom. She is a featured parent five minutes into the ACA video on our website. Her obituary is here.
Chris, please know you are in all of our thoughts and prayers, and know that we dedicate the accomplishments of you and your classmates in the Class of 2017, the first graduating cohort of the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs, to your mother's memory.
Annemarie Beran, senior at J.R. Tucker HS, will be among the 39 students in the Reynolds ACA Class of 2016 graduating with an Associate's Degree on May 15, 2016, at the Siegel Center. Annemarie is a nominee for the prestigious Lexus of Richmond Pursuit of Perfection Leadership Award, which celebrates the top 30 scholar-athletes in the Metro Richmond Area. Below, you can download her radio interview with WRVA and take a look at her interview with Fox Sports. In both interviews, she talks in depth about the advantages of being a part of the Reynolds ACA. Specifically, in the radio interview, she talks about how those 60+ college credits will provide options for her as a scholar-athlete at Christopher Newport University, including a double major and Master's Degree, all while enjoying her full four years of NCAA eligibility as a star power forward. Congratulations, Annemarie. Your fans at Tucker and Reynolds are rooting for you to win the whole thing!
On March 1, 2016, Reynolds Community College proudly hosted the Third Annual ACA Convocation honoring the 65 high school juniors at J.R. Tucker HS and Highland Springs HS who are on pace to earn their Associate's Degrees through the Advance College Academy in a little more than a year. Read all about it here.
To meet the Class of 2017, check out our new slide show below, also on our website at www.reynolds.edu/aca.
Congratulations, juniors, and keep up the good work!
When eighth-graders apply to the Reynolds ACA, they are asked to write an application essay asking them to look inward at the habits they have already developed and those they need to develop in order to be successful in this program. Here's the prompt:
Success in college-level work requires certain habits of mind: curiosity, creativity, flexibility, openness, persistence, responsibility, engagement in your own learning, and the ability to reflect on your own thinking. In an essay, describe how you have already developed three of these habits, and identify at least one habit you will need to develop further in order to make the most of this opportunity to accelerate your move into higher education.
John Mitchell Arcibal (a.k.a. Jomo)
Reynolds ACA Class of 2016
J.R. Tucker High School
Here’s the essay Jomo submitted in 2012 as a 14-year-old:
College is the most stressful experience that any student has to endure, yet students dream of going through that stressful segment of education. I am one of those dreamers. My dream is to be the first person in my family to achieve a college degree in America. My father dropped out of college to help support his family, and my mother never had the opportunity to go to some of the best colleges in the world. To succeed in college it requires students to possess certain habits of mind: curiosity, engagement in one’s own learning, and persistence. I believe that I exemplify these habits of mind; however, I’m not perfect. I also need to develop further my ability to reflect on my own thinking.
They say curiosity killed the cat; however, I’m not the cat. I’m very curious, about learning, life skills, and whatever else comes before me. My passion to be curious fuels my desire to learn and never give up on the quest for knowledge. I want to learn new things. Whenever I have questions in class, I’m never afraid to ask. I can always ask for help. My curiosity to make sure my learning stays on the right path and progresses is another skill I pride myself in. I know people think asking for help is a weakness, but sometimes it is necessary, and to do what is best to fuel my curiosity will only make me stronger in the long run.
Secondly, I believe I possess an engagement in my own learning. Ever since I was in Kindergarten I wanted to learn. When the teacher asked each student what their favorite part of school was, my favorite part was homework because it helped me learn. Even though my favorite part of school has definitely shifted, I still possess an engagement in my own learning. I always go the extra mile with my work, I do my best, pay attention in class, and I have fun with my work.
I believe that I present persistence. I never give up, no matter the circumstances. A couple of years ago, my dad passed away, and everything seemed to go downhill. However with all the new responsibilities, I had to move on, and become stronger. At first I thought it was going to be impossible to get on with my life, but I realized it was possible. I persisted and moved on and I came out a stronger person. With all these traits in mind I believe I am able to utilize this program to its fullest extent.
However, I am not perfect. There is still a skill I need to strengthen: the ability to reflect on my own thinking. I know I can further this ability and while it is strengthened I can further utilize the opportunities exhibited by this program. I understand that this program will present difficult and rigorous curriculum but I am ready and I think I will do well and grow in this program.
Late last fall, we asked the graduating ACA seniors at J.R. Tucker to take another look at those eighth-grade essays and to provide us with a brief update.
Here’s Jomo's take on his eighth-grade self, after four years in the ACA:
Looking back at my response in eighth grade, I would most likely approach the prompt in a similar fashion. I believe two of my most developed habits of mind are still curiosity and persistence. However, responsibility has emerged as an important habit of mind that I utilize at home and in the classroom. In approaching the prompt I would probably provide more recent examples and talk about my experiences at Tucker like taking AP classes, becoming class president, etc. In terms of which habit of mind needs improvement, I would still address “reflecting on my own thinking” as my greatest area of improvement. Although I have definitely developed this trait, “some habits die hard”. Also it is interesting to see how my diction and voice has changed since eighth grade.
Over my time in the ACA program, my sense of responsibility has developed the most.
Since my eighth grade year my responsibilities at home, at school, and as a student have increased substantially. At home I have become responsible for a myriad of new things, I drive my brother to school, I run errands, and I fulfill some parental duties that my mother can no longer fulfill. Additionally, since eighth grade I have increased my involvement at school, I work with the ACA committee, multiple honor societies and clubs, and I serve as a class officer. In the classroom, my work load has tripled its size since my eighth grade year. However, despite all these responsibilities I am able to live a well-balanced life. Time management, a skill I haven’t perfected, but definitely improved has played a key role in developing my sense of responsibility. In the summer learning community we took at Reynolds before our junior year, I was able to see what areas I needed to improve in and I was able to become more responsible for applying the principles I learned in that class. Additionally, the online Reynolds elective helped me develop my responsibility because I was the only one who was accountable for my grade in the class. The professor didn’t keep track of my progress and it was up to me to complete all the assignments.
I still believe that I need to develop my “ability to reflect on my own learning”. Although
I have developed the skill, and am able to reflect on what I have done on a case to case basis, I need to learn how to do it daily and increase my understanding of what I learned and how I can apply it to my life and everyday actions. Having a research experience at George Washington University taught me to take the things I learned today and work towards applying them tomorrow. Although I was able to take larger concepts and apply them, I must work on taking smaller concepts and apply them to daily situations.
Jomo is a member of the Reynolds ACA Class of 2016 at J.R. Tucker High School, where he is Senior Class President. He has recently been accepted to Stanford University (surely, one of “the best colleges in the world”) in the fall of 2016, where he will be attending on a full scholarship earned through the highly competitive QuestBridge Program.
Recently, Sierra Semel, who earned an Associate Degree as part of the inaugural class of the Reynolds Advance College Academy (ACA) at J.R. Tucker High School, was invited to address the Local Elected Officials Dinner hosted by Dr. Gary Rhodes, President of Reynolds Community College.
Here is the text of her address:
I believe some of the best things in life aren’t on your radar. They are unexpected and completely out of the blue. And I can say with absolute certainty that I never saw ACA coming.
About five years ago I received a seemingly unimportant letter in the mail. This letter described a brand-new dual enrollment program. Most of the people I knew who also got this letter were skeptical. They said I would never actually get an associate’s degree and that I shouldn’t trust something so new, but obviously they were wrong. I entered the Advance College Academy with blind optimism and what I got was something I never expected.
I quickly realized that ACA is much more than a dual enrollment program, it is a community of learners. Every one of us was curious about the world around us. Our daily lunch topics varied from the mysteries of space, like black holes, to the psychology of the Harry Potter series. The combined passion of everyone in ACA created a classroom experience unlike anything I have ever known.
Moreover, ACA turned into a second family for many, including myself. Day or night, we were always there for each other. ACA students were not threatened by each other’s success, but instead, we celebrated our peers’ achievements.
Because of ACA I have lifelong friends, but I also have lifelong skills and knowledge. I have felt incredibly prepared at VCU this semester and it is all because of ACA. Our teachers did not have us memorizing facts. Instead, they taught us to think critically and across disciplines. They taught us how to question the world around us. And perhaps most importantly, they taught us to take what we learned and apply it outside of the classroom.
During my junior year, I wrote a research paper on the underrepresentation of women in engineering in my English Composition class. As a future engineer, I was and still am extremely passionate about this topic. My teacher, Mr. Robert Meister, saw this passion of mine and encouraged me to do more- so I did.
In the Fall of my Senior year, I co-founded the Women in STEM, Science Technology Engineering and Math, club at J.R. Tucker High School. Additionally, I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award for organizing an educational workshop to get young girls interested in STEM. The workshop was held right here at Reynolds and it was a huge success. During the event, the girls participated in hands-on activities that I designed, interacted with a robot, and even talked with the Virginia Director of STEM at the time, Dr. Megan Healy.
Reynolds allowed me to use their state-of-the-art laboratory as well as high-quality science equipment. Only because of this support was I able to offer my workshop free of charge to all attendees. If it weren’t for faculty, such as Ms. Shalini Upadhyaya and Dr. Janet Adams who volunteered their time and advice, I know that my event would not have been the success that it was. Mr. Meister did not rest until I was featured on the news and in the Henrico Citizen. And Dr. Rhodes even wrote me an extremely thoughtful email congratulating me on the outcome of my workshop.
It is hard to put into words just how much ACA means to me. It gave me a family, a home, invaluable life skills, and it even gave me 61 transferrable college credits. When I first started high school, I had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. Because of ACA, I have developed into the person I am today and I’m ready to face the world head-on. Four years ago, I had no idea how choosing ACA would turn out, but I have to say that taking that leap of faith was the best decision I ever made.
Sierra Semel (Reynolds ACA Class of 2015) is a Mechanical Engineering major in the Honors College at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She was recently accepted into the da Vinci Center at VCU for the undergraduate certificate in Product Innovation as well as the INNOVATE Living Learning Program. Sierra is a member of the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team and is also secretary of the VCU chapter of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers).