Brandon Lambert, graduate of the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS in the Class of 2017 with an Associate Degree in Business Administration, is an 18-year-old second-semester sophomore with a huge head start at Virginia Tech, having transferred 56 credits from the ACA toward his Bachelors degree in Business Management.
He's also nationally known in the dual enrollment community, thanks to his recent appearance in Washington, DC, at the annual convention of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Brandon served on a panel with two other dual enrollment alums from Colorado and Maryland, who together addressed more than 800 attendees from all over the country last Monday morning at the conference's plenary session.
NACEP Executive Director, Adam Lowe, had been so impressed by Brandon when he visited Highland Springs HS last spring that he invited him to the conference and provided funding for his travel and lodging in DC.
Brandon wowed the crowd and his interviewer, Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (pictured above), with his usual eloquence and poise. Asked what he appreciated most about his four years in the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS, Brandon said, "It was a gift to spend four years pursuing the same goal with seventeen other motivated, like-minded people." Dr. Reed's last question to Brandon asked him to share some final thoughts with the throng of nearly a thousand dual enrollment educators and administrators. "What you do every day makes a difference," Brandon said. "You are changing people's lives."
Needless to say, Brandon's words elicited a standing ovation.
Brandon is all smiles after his triumphant appearance (pictured here with his proud Site Director from the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS, Allen Riddle, at left, and the Executive Director of NACEP, Adam Lowe, at right).
The following is the kind of letter we like to get from our ACA alums:
Hi Ms. T and Ms. Blackman!
How are y'all doing? I just wanted to check in and ask about a few things for this coming fall and give a quick update about what I have been up to!
I am currently still in South Africa through one of Stanford's study abroad programs. While exploring Cape Town I am taking classes on the implications of foreign aid in developing countries, the business climate in Africa, the relationship between social and ecological systems in an informal settlement, and contemporary issues concerning race politics and economic inequality in the context of South Africa. I also took a field-trip based course that explored topics of colonialism and the curation of historical sites. I believe this whole experience has developed me into a more rounded student with interests among many fields of study.
One of the most meaningful experiences has been my internship working with Codespace, a non-profit organization working to teach young girls how to code. This experience has helped me gain traction on what I want to do with my time at Stanford and beyond. I am currently pursuing a Computer Science degree with an education minor and hopefully will work towards teaching computer science in underserved communities. I also have found a passion for increasing diversity in the STEM field among women and underrepresented minorities as well as increasing access to higher education.
I'm emailing y'all today because I'll be returning home to Richmond on September 2. I don't leave for school until Sept 21st and was hoping I would be able provide my assistance for the two weeks that I will be home. I was wondering if there were any opportunities to mentor any of the students and assist them with college applications or finding internships for the spring! I'm willing to help in any way possible, so please reach out if there is anything I can do to further the success of the program or Tucker in general. I'd love to stay involved with the ACA program and help students develop.
With lots of love and warm wishes,
Epilogue: For two weeks in September, as promised, Jomo met individually with all 43 Reynolds ACA 11th graders at J.R. Tucker HS, counseling them on their next two years in the ACA and beyond. We’re proud of Jomo for being our first ACA grad to attend Stanford University. We’re even prouder to see him “paying forward” his experience in the ACA to those students who are destined to follow in his footsteps.
Congratulations to one of our most treasured faculty members in the Reynolds ACA, English Professor at Highland Springs HS, Ms. Lee Naughton, who was surprised by the governor on Monday with news she had been named the Teacher of the Year for the entire Richmond Region. Ms. Naughton teaches ENG 111, 112, 244, and 242 for Reynolds and serves both juniors and seniors in the Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS. Read more about the special event here.
Way to go, Lee, and way to go, Springer Nation!
The first three graduating classes of the Reynolds ACA have numbered 34, 39, and 63, for a total of 136 students whose lives and futures have been forever transformed by earning an Associate Degree concurrent with high school graduation.
In May, 2018, we look forward to nearly doubling our all-time total of graduates, as we celebrate the fourth graduating cohort from J.R. Tucker HS, the second from Highland Springs HS, the first from Goochland HS and Powhatan HS, and the first from the Early College Academy (featured in the blog post below).
Meet those prospective graduates and find out about their college and career interests at the following links below:
The Reynolds ACA at J.R.Tucker HS
The Reynolds ACA at Highland Springs HS
The Reynolds ACA at Goochland HS
The Reynolds ACA at Powhatan HS
The Reynolds ECA serving Richmond Public Schools
The newest Reynolds College Academy is completing its first year of college coursework on our Downtown Campus. Students from various Richmond Public Schools have been taking classes every morning since last August as part of the Early College Academy (ECA). These students are on pace to graduate in May, 2018, with their Associate of Science Degree in Social Sciences. Meet the students by watching the video here!
Check out this recent story from WRIC Channel 8's Positively Richmond series:
Congratulations to our latest Reynolds ACA alums. We can't wait to see what you'll do next!
For more, see the Colleges and Universities tab at our website.
The sky's the limit!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the Reynolds ACA Director's Blog, where you'll find news about alums, current students, and faculty in the Reynolds Advance College