Newark high school students earn 60 college credits early as part of dual enrollment program

The program is a partnership between University High School and Essex County College.

Naomi Yané

May 30, 2024, 12:28 AM

Updated 14 days ago

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Three teens from Newark will be starting college as juniors in the fall after earning 60 college credits while still in high school
Abrianna Joseph, Adrian Ottah and Chermya Pope are graduating from University High School in Newark in a few weeks. But just last week, they graduated from college.
The “ECC Three,” as they call themselves, have each earned 60 college credits from Essex County College earning them each an associate degree in liberal arts. This means when they start college at their four-year institutions in the fall, they’ll technically be juniors. They say that as excited as they are, it’s a bit daunting.
Joseph said it's scary. "I learned so much in my college classes but like going there, it’s supposed to be my first year. It’s going to be my first year but not really, it’s going to feel real weird,” she says.
The three students are part of a dual enrollment program that partners with Essex County College. College professors come to the high school and teach college-level classes. They started in the program their sophomore year. They get college classes at the start of their school day and at the end of their school day. In between, they have their normal high school classes. Ottah says that it is a balancing act.
"The key to success is really organization, keeping planners, even reminders on iPhones,” she says. “So, I kept reminders, I kept planners. I was able to balance out both."
Principal Genique Flournoy- Hamilton says the school's goal is to ensure their students leave high school with a leg up in life.
"I think it’s a benefit for them but it’s also a learning experience and a transition that they’re doing much earlier that prepares and equips them with the ability to be successful when they actually go to their four-year university,” Flournoy- Hamilton says.
The three had plenty of support in this undertaking, not just from their teachers and professors, but also from home. Pope said her parents were her biggest cheerleaders.
"I want to thank my parents, my mom and dad - Tomika Pettiford and Darnell Pope - for pushing me to be the best and always supporting me,” Pope says.
Joseph is heading to Rutgers University to become a registered nurse, Ottah is heading to Kean University to become a computer software engineer and Pope is heading to Tuskegee University to become a veterinarian.
Before they head out into the world, they still have some high school business to attend to like prom and graduation.


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