By Bob Fowler, Roane State staff writer
One wants to be a doctor. Another, a lawyer involved in immigration cases. Two plan to become engineers, another wants to be involved in mission work, and one intends to work as an ultrasound technician.
They are among 14 Oak Ridge High School students who are members of the first Roane State Community College Middle College class, and they’re getting ready to graduate this spring, both from high school and college.
Although they have varying career goals, they have several things in common. They all say they have enjoyed their Middle College experiences, they’ve all been accepted to colleges and universities to continue their educations, and they’re fans of their advisor and English instructor, Assistant Roane State Professor Margaret “Maggie” Bouldin.
The students spoke almost in unison in expressing their positive feelings about Bouldin.
“She taught us very valuable life lessons,” student Caroline Webb said. “She’s very welcoming,” added Chloe Mallett.
Middle College is the innovative Roane State program where high-achieving high school juniors are invited to take two years of college classes in the mornings and return to their respective high schools in the afternoons.
Their reasons for participating vary. Caroline Webb, for instance, said she’s on an educational fast track to get into law school and become a lawyer specializing in immigration issues. With her Roane State degree, she can start a four-year college or university as a junior.
Middle College required her to learn how to manage her time, and it instilled self-discipline, Caroline said. “It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
Shaelyn Deal said it’s “financially a better path” when it comes to offsetting the cost of higher education, and it has offered “more of a mature environment.”
The financial aspect also appeals to Aamariah Crow. “I want to go into mission work with a nonprofit organization, and it’s important to save money,” she said.
Jacob Wright said his two years in Middle College have been a good experience. “I’ve enjoyed all my classes,” he added.
The students said they preferred the relative freedom they experienced during Middle College over the high school regimen, especially the option to pick their own academic paths.
They will be receiving associate’s degrees from Roane State and high school diplomas from Oak Ridge High this spring. Among the numerous colleges and universities that have already sent them admission acceptance letters: East Tennessee State, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Tennessee Tech, and Brenau University in Georgia.
Members of the Oak Ridge High and Roane State Middle College graduating class are Aamariah Crow, Isabella Kelly, Chloe Mallett, Savannah Shropshire, Selena Sterling, Christina Thomas, Caroline Webb, Katie Swigert, Haley Snyder, Jacob Wright, Shaelyn Deal, Cameille Schubert, Cameron Malone, and Marissa Colvais.
Roane State’s Middle College program has been in place since 2014 with the first graduating class in 2016, said program director David Lane. To date, Middle College has had 149 graduates, and there are currently 173 students who are enrolled, including 24 students in the Mechatronics Middle College curriculum at the college’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Facility in Clinton.
High schools now participating in Middle College include Cumberland County High and Stone Memorial High in Cumberland County; Rockwood, Harriman, Kingston, Midway, and Oliver Springs high schools in Roane County; Clinton, Anderson County, and Oak Ridge high schools in Anderson County; Wartburg Central in Morgan County; Campbell County High; Rhea County High; and Lenoir City High.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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