Last week, students, educators, policymakers, and partners from across Vermont gathered at the State House to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Act 77, the 2013 legislation that created Flexible Pathways programs for high school students. CCV staff and students were there to represent the College’s flexible pathways, including Dual Enrollment, Fast Forward, and Early College.
CCV student Caitlin McGinley completed Early College during her senior year of high school at U-32. “It went really well,” she shared during opening remarks in the House chamber. “So I stayed [at CCV] and I’m doing the Free Degree Promise, which is giving me a chance to do my first two years of college free and without debt, which is amazing.” The Free Degree Promise, funded by the J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation, offers a free associate degree to Vermont students who complete Early College at CCV. “I’m on my way to graduate with my associate degree in June which I’m really excited for considering I’m graduating early,” said McGinley, who plans to transfer to a bachelor’s program in communications. “This pathway was really helpful for me in finding both opportunities to [help] younger students and also figuring out what I want to do with future career paths.”
Thousands of Vermont middle and high school students come to CCV each year to get a jump start on college and career training. With support from Act 77 as well as philanthropic partners, CCV offers a full continuum of programs, from middle school Access Days to the Free Degree Promise.
Sarah Kresser is the Early College degree program manager at CCV, and she joined staff and students for the day-long celebration. “It was awe-inspiring to learn, directly from students describing their experiences, how many opportunities have been created because of this bill,” she shared in an email after the event. “I came away with so much gratitude for the fact that Vermont students have these opportunities and with a certain amount of pride for the role that CCV plays in supporting students on these pathways through all the options that we offer Vermont high school students choosing a flexible pathway to high school graduation.”
“10 Years of Act 77” featured breakout dialogue groups, community-building activities, and “bright spots” opportunities for youth-adult teams to share their experiences with student-centered learning. McClure Foundation Executive Director Carolyn Weir spoke during the opening remarks. “As a foundation that works to make postsecondary education the easy choice, and wants young people to imagine a future that they can create for themselves, it makes me really happy to be in a room filled with people who are embracing the spirit and intent of this legislation,” she said.
To learn more about the many ways Vermont high school students can start college for free at CCV, visit gotocollegevt.org.