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An early start on college

Like every other high school across the state, the College & Career High School (CCHS) held its graduation ceremony earlier this month. But unlike the graduates from traditional high schools, many of whom are now anxiously anticipating what it will be like to begin college in the fall (just like I did many years ago), the CCHS graduates have already made the transition to college and are well on their way to becoming college graduates. In fact, one of the 39 graduates from CCHS’s 2015 graduating class not only left high school with a high school diploma, she left with three CNM associate degrees (Sociology, Criminology and Liberal Arts). Way to go, Vyvian Nguyen!

The 39 graduating seniors completed 424 CNM courses, totaling 1,273 credit hours, with one student earning 77 credit hours. Vyvian earned 76. The credit hours are transferable to the University of New Mexico and public WINOGRAD Katharine W_ 2014universities across the state. Vyvian and some of her fellow CCHS graduates will be able to enter a college or university as 18-year-old juniors.

The College & Career High School was founded through a partnership between Albuquerque Public Schools and CNM. It opened on CNM’s Main Campus in fall 2013 with 75 students. This year, the number jumped to 122.

High school sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible to attend CCHS. They spend half of their school day taking APS classes and the other half taking CNM dual credit classes that count for both high school elective and college credit. The CCHS students have the same access as regular college students to all of CNM’s support services, such as tutoring, academic advisors and libraries.

Best of all, CNM tuition and textbooks are free to the students, allowing their families to save significant time and money on a college education.

The 39 graduates from CCHS joined more than 2,200 CNM graduates in reaching their momentous milestones earlier this month. The 2,200-plus graduates are well-prepared to help strengthen our region’s economy, add momentum to entrepreneurship, become leaders for businesses across the state and contribute to the overall wellbeing of our communities. They’ll fill important workforce needs in our local economy in far-ranging fields from biotechnology to business administration, from welding to nursing, from computer science to teacher education, and so many disciplines in between.

On behalf of CNM, we congratulate all high school and college graduates across New Mexico for persevering, excelling and improving the future of our state by graduating and advancing to the next step in their lives.

As we know, there is not a more proven path to a good life than education, especially higher education. And in the coming years, higher education is going to be more important than ever in the pursuit of happiness, as good-paying jobs become more technical and require more specialized skills. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, 62 percent of jobs will require at least a certificate or associate degree by 2020. In New Mexico, we’re behind the curve in being prepared for those jobs. Only 32 percent of the population in New Mexico has an associate degree or higher.

As our College & Career High School students have proven, it’s never too early to start striving for a college education and exploring broader educational opportunities. It’s also never too late.

As the cheers for this year’s high school and college graduates fade, I hope we can all start rousing new cheers for every person in our community, young or old, who is pursuing a college education or considering the pursuit. We all need them to go for it. And graduate!

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