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This spring, 25 seniors from the Fulton City School District (FCSD) became the first students to complete a joint initiative at Cayuga Community College helping them earn credits toward a degree in information technology.
Launched in 2018, the Early College High School — Information Technology (ECHS-IT) program created a pathway for students at FCSD’s G. Ray Bodley High School to earn college credits and experience a college culture while also earning their high school degree. Students can earn up to 38 college credits through the program.
Students who enrolled in the fall of 2018 completed the ECHS-IT program with the conclusion of Cayuga’s Spring 2022 semester.
“We are incredibly proud of the first cohort of ECHS-IT students. Not only did they succeed in high school and college at the same time, but they did so during a global pandemic,” said Sarah Yaw, Cayuga’s Director of K-12 Partnerships & Academic Pathways. “We are excited to celebrate their completion of the program and look forward to their continued success.”
“I am just so proud of this first cohort of students. They not only took advantage of all the opportunities and resources that our Early College High School Program has to offer, but their input also helped shape the makeup of the program for the cohorts behind them. They were an incredible group of students to work with,” said ECHS Coordinator Sean Broderick.
Applicants are accepted into ECHS-IT based on academic achievement, behavior, attendance, and a program interview. Enrolled students begin earning credits through the Cayuga Advantage program at their high school before first participating in an on-campus summer program. Students take courses on-campus during their junior and senior years.
Students can earn sufficient credits to subsequently complete an associate degree in information technology at Cayuga after one year of college.
Seniors Reese Pierce and Matthew Firenze are among those students who completed the ECHS-IT program this spring, and are both continuing their education in the fall at Cayuga.
Pierce was among the first students to enroll in the program when he was a freshman, and said his experience building computers and coding with friends helped him adapt quickly to the ECHS-IT expectations.
Firenze joined the program a year later and caught up to the other students. Acknowledging that he didn’t know what to expect upon joining the program, Firenze said he was nervous at first but quickly appreciated the program’s focus on technology.
“The program helps you feel a deeper sense of what’s possible with computers, an appreciation for what they can do and how they work,” said Firenze. “As soon as I started it, I loved it. I want to work where I can make things, and an important part of understanding the role of computers is knowing how they come together, and using that to make something new.”
Pierce and Firenze encouraged other students who are interested in career fields such as computer science, information technology or game design to enroll in ECHS-IT.
“For anyone who is interested in information technology or other tech-based fields, this is the right program. You just have to keep pushing through — don’t quit. The rewards of being in the program increase with the more time you spend in it and the more work you put into it,” said Pierce.
Along with earning college credits, the program also offers students access to tutoring, financial aid counseling, workplace visits and potential internships.
Cayuga also partners with FCSD, the Hannibal Central School District and the Mexico Academy and Central School District for Early College High School — Health Sciences, a similar program that started in 2020. The program helps students earn credits toward a degree in health sciences.
For more information on ECHS-IT, visit https://www.cayuga-cc.edu/academics/high-school-programs/echs/.