Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Students Earn College Degrees in High School

Dual enrollment graduates surrounding Rio Salado College President Chris Bustamante

A record number of Valley students have already received their associate degrees before graduating from high school thanks to Rio Salado’s dual enrollment program. 

There were a total of 38 dual enrollment grads from 10 different high schools this year, 26 of whom took part in Rio Salado’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony at Comerica Theatre on May 5. This represents a record number of graduates, commencement attendees and schools participating in Rio Salado’s dual enrollment program.

The students come from Deer Valley and Heritage high schools in Glendale; Brophy College Prep, Desert Vista, Horizon, Mountain Pointe and Xavier College Prep in Phoenix as well as Tempe’s Corona del Sol, Marcos de Niza and McClintock high schools.

“I chose dual enrollment because I wanted to take as many core classes as possible to get a head start on my biomedical engineering degree,” said Slade Hermann, a senior at Deer Valley High School, who earned an associate in arts degree at last week’s ceremony.

“Through Rio Salado’s program, my high school offered multiple classes not only for high school credit, but for college credit as well, so I took advantage.”

Erin Hintze, a senior at Xavier College Preparatory, said the cost savings was a major factor. “Rio’s dual enrollment program is a great way to take college-level classes in high school at a more affordable price than if you took them in college,” said Hintze, who earned an associate in arts degree and is one of 16 Xavier dual enrollment grads.

“I earned a college degree before I graduate from high school,” said Hintze. “That is a claim most kids can't make.”

Hintze will be enrolling as a junior in Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University this fall, with plans to major in computer systems engineering.

Kate Boyle, another Xavier College Preparatory student, noted the benefits of getting a jump start on her college career. “I will be a second semester sophomore when I go to college and will have completed all the general education classes I would have had to take if I did not go through Rio’s dual enrollment program,” Boyle said.

Approximately 7,000 students earned high school and college credits simultaneously through Rio Salado’s dual enrollment classes. Classes are taught in person at each school by high school instructors who meet the qualifications to teach college classes.

“Research shows students who participate in dual enrollment programs have higher college GPA’s and are more likely to graduate from college than those who don’t,” said Dr. EJ Anderson, Rio Salado director of community partnerships for early college.

“Dual enrollment is one of the best strategies to improve a student’s ability to go to college and graduate on time,” said Anderson.

Anderson says parents play a key role in the program. “The Dual Enrollment program has really flourished in the past few years as students, parents, teachers and administrators see the incredible benefits,” Anderson said.

Dual enrollment credits transfer to all Arizona public colleges and universities, as well as many public and private colleges and universities outside of Arizona.

“Dual enrollment helped prepare me for college,” said Desert Vista High School senior Rex Moore, who is also a member of Rio Salado’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society and one of two Rio Salado All Arizona Academic Scholars who was awarded full tuition to one of Arizona’s public universities this February.

“I was always interested in math and science and want to do something to help people. That is why I am pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering.”

Austin Hornbaker, a senior at Tempe Corona del Sol High School and physics aficionado, earned both an associate in arts and an associate in science degree at the commencement ceremony.

“Dual enrollment allowed me to complete most of my associate in science (AS) degree by taking the classes I needed to take anyway to graduate high school,” Hornbaker said. “As it turns out, the AS and AA are so similar that I have completed the requirements for both degrees.”

With two associate degrees under his belt, Hornbaker will have the first four semesters of his bachelor’s degree in physics completed before he even sets foot on the ASU campus this fall.

“I will be able to jump right into the interesting physics classes instead of spending my first two years completing general education requirements,” Hornbaker said.

For more details about Rio Salado’s dual enrollment program, including scholarship opportunities, visit or call 480-517-8080.

Rio Salado Dual Enrollment Class of 2015
  • Brophy College Prep: Kevin Mead, Michael O'Gara
  • Corona del Sol: Steven Dykstra, Austin Hornbaker*, Samuel Juetten
  • Deer Valley: Slade Hermann, Michael Barnes, Grady Telfer, Jordan Tovar, Peter Tuohy, Victoria Vincent
  • Desert Vista: Angelique Cappo, Chase Boeke, Eric Kooinga, Megan Yousefelahi*, Rex Moore, Sepehr Rostamzadeh, Tessa Reinhart
  • Heritage: Andreas Grossen
  • Horizon: Angelica Gutierrez, Jasmine Robinson, Megan Fried
  • Marcos de Niza: Elizabeth Bierwagon
  • McClintock: Katie Canevit
  • Mt. Pointe: Kyra de la Torre, Shugri Abdulle, Teresa Velasco
  • Xavier College Prep: Brittney Hintze (2013), Aimee Skornik (2014), Anna Aloma, Areen Badwal. Erin Hintze, Jessica Kuretich, Kate Boyle, Katrina Knapp, Kyra Ochsner Madison Kumnic, Maria Brunacini, Mary Martin, Monica Tibajia, Morgan Snopko, Tianna Bengston, Tristan Richards

*Earned an associate of arts and science degree.

1. Group photo of Valley dual grads from Rio Salado Commencement Ceremony with President Chris Bustamante. Photographer Kenneth Krehbiel.
2. Sister Joanie Nuckols with Xavier Prep graduates. Photographer Kenneth Krehbiel.
3. Desert Vista Grads: Chase Boeke, Angelique Cappo, Rex Moore, Megan Yousefelahi and Sepehr Rostamzadeh. Photographer Gordon Fong.

Other high-resolution photographs available at