PHILADELPHIA, June 12, 2007 - Manya Blackson, 17, a senior at Bok Technical High School, and Maria Cabrera, 18, a senior at Thomas Edison High School, will each be in the enviable position of attending two graduations this month.
One graduation will be at their respective high schools. The other will be at Community College of Philadelphia, where they will graduate from the high school portion of the Advanced Tech at College program, which allows high school students, interested in information technology (IT), to earn college credits while completing their last two years of high school on the College's campus.
Blackson and Cabrera will be among 24 students honored at the program's second graduation ceremony at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13 in the Great Hall in the College's Winnet Building on 17th Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets. Of the 24 graduates, 14 are planning to attend Community College of Philadelphia this summer and fall. The other 10 graduates will be going to other colleges and universities.
"I like the way the program brings high school students from all over the city into one group. Over time, we've all become like one big family," said Blackson. "I also really like the college environment."
Cabrera, who is from Ecuador, said she is excited because her family members are coming from Ecuador to see both of her graduations, then she will be spending a month in Ecuador before heading to college. "It's been a great opportunity," she said of the Advanced Tech at College program.
Through Advanced Tech at College, Philadelphia high school juniors and seniors interested in information technology complete their last two years of high school on the Community College of Philadelphia campus. While completing their high school diploma requirements, students also have the opportunity to earn up to 24 college credits. Following their senior year, students can enter Community College of Philadelphia's Associate's Degree programs or attend other colleges.
Students benefit from an integrated curriculum of enhanced academic and technical studies, as well as access to college resources such as computer labs equipped with advanced technology, IT internships, counseling, tutoring and peer support.
The goal of Advanced Tech at College is to improve student retention and persistence and ultimately increase college graduation rates and job preparedness.
Blackson recently traveled to Pennsylvania State University's Altoona Campus on an admissions tour and was so impressed she has enrolled there and will start as an elementary and kindergarten education major, beginning this fall. She wants to return to Philadelphia as a teacher, perhaps in the public schools. Cabrera plans to attend the University of Scranton where she will major in International Studies. "I want to become an international lawyer," she said.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Advanced Tech at College is a partnership between the College, the School District of Philadelphia and SEPTA. In their junior year of high school, students participate in internships at the College and at Philadelphia-based businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Students come from Philadelphia public schools that have low attendance and graduation rates and high dropout rates. This year's graduates are from the Bartram, Benjamin Franklin, Bok, Dobbins, Edison, Furness, Germantown, Kensington, Strawberry Mansion, and West Philadelphia high schools.
To qualify for the program, students must have at least a 2.5 grade point average, and they must have maintained an attendance of at least 90 percent in their freshmen and sophomore years. Students also must demonstrate an interest in technology.