NEW HARTFORD — Earning one degree would be an accomplishment for even the most dedicated students, but imagine earning both a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time.
That is exactly what Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) student from the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES, William Grant, Westmoreland Central School senior, did over the last four years, and several others from the program are well on their way to accomplishing in the near future.
The P-TECH OHM program was established in 2015 with the mission of providing selected students from the OHM BOCES’ component school districts with individualized opportunities to simultaneously earn their State Regents High School Diploma and an associate’s of applied science degree from Mohawk Valley Community College at no cost to the student.
As one of only 38 P-TECH programs throughout New York, P-TECH OHM offers students an innovative, hands-on and rigorous high school and college curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) while also teaching workplace skills including leadership, communication and problem solving. Students in the program participate in workplace projects, professional mentoring, job shadowing and internships with more than 30 local business and industry partners.
Fourteen students from the program’s first cohort, who are now seniors in high school, will complete their high school requirements this spring, gaining free college and internship experience along the way.
Each student in the program has had an individualized four, five or six-year educational pathway to receiving their associate’s degree.
Grant will be the first student from the program to graduate from MVCC with a degree in electrical engineering technology in May, prior to receiving his Regents Diploma with Honors in June at WCS.
Another senior will complete their associate’s degree by December of this year, still others will take just one additional year after graduating high school and the remaining students will graduate from MVCC in May 2021.
There are 85 students in grades 9-12 enrolled in the program, including 12 underclassmen who will also have the opportunity to finish the program in just four years.
Grant said he recognizes the academic, career and social advantages that he’s gained throughout his time in P-TECH OHM.
“I joined the P-TECH program to get ahead in my education, and get a head start on being a part of the workforce,” he said. “It’s opened up this huge network of businesses leaders and college educators that I can connect to in the future.”
Throughout Grant’s time in the P-TECH program, he has excelled academically, completing 23 high school credits and 68 college credits, and being named to the MVCC Vice-president’s List and the P-TECH Principal’s List, as well as being inducted into MVCC’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“What’s most impressive, and almost unheard of for a high school student, is that Will is earning his associate’s degree before he’s even graduated from high school,” said P-TECH Administrator Erica Schoff.
“He accelerated in both his high school and college career over the course of just four short years. P-TECH students are full-time at the college by the time they are seniors in high school, but through acceleration and hard-work, Will became a full-time college student in eleventh grade.”
In addition to being recognized for his academic accomplishments, Grant has built an impressive resume and secured the P-TECH program’s first paid internship with business partner Trenton Technology, Inc. following completion of his junior year. He has been able to remain active in many extracurricular activities in his home district of Westmoreland, including Drama Club, Jazz and Concert Band, Chorus, Utica Honors Band, the Performing Arts Society and the Pride of Westmoreland Marching Band.
Grant plans to attend SUNY Polytechnic Institute next year where he will major in electrical engineering with a long-term goal to eventually earn a doctoral degree.
He was also awarded the Stanley S. Litow P-TECH Scholarship for New York State P-TECH students who are on track to graduate from their P-TECH school with an AAS or AS degree and plan to continue their education at a four-year SUNY institution in the same degree field as their associate’s degree.
“Being the first cohort in the P-TECH OHM program, Will and his classmates paved the way for the students who have joined the program since,” said Schoff.
Asked what advice he would share with prospective P-TECH students, Grant said, “Are you ready to work hard and really embrace education and the way P-TECH works? If so, then you will truly benefit from everything they do to help you. It’s truly astounding what they can do for you as long as you’re willing to accept the support they give.”
P-TECH OHM celebrated Grant and the graduating members of the inaugural P-TECH OHM class during a Completion Ceremony held May 1 in the Howard D. Mettelman Learning Center on the OHM BOCES campus.