Student sheds light on journey earning college degree before graduating HS

Amarillo Collegiate Academy Senior, Ayden Cooper earns Associate Degree from Amarillo College. (Photo Credit: Ayden Cooper).

Amarillo Collegiate Academy Senior, Ayden Cooper has always been a planner.

"We map out what we're doing, so last week I took a final in this class, a final in that class and then did these chapters,"
Ayden said showing ABC 7 her goal card.

Though she's organized, perhaps it's her determination that's landed her an Associate's College Degree before High School graduation.

"What they do is, they start you out as a Freshman, and you kind of get an introduction to College course," Ayden said.

Taking both High School and College courses at the same time, is what Amarillo College's Director of Career Path Advisement, Jason Norman said makes this possible.

"We maximize as much dual credit that they offer on their campus... and then all they have to do is usually about five or six concurrent classes between ninth and 12th grade," Norman said.

Norman said it takes a lot of coordination and support from all sides, especially during hard times.

"My mom has epilepsy, she was diagnosed with it three years ago," Ayden said.

Staying focused hasn't always been easy.

"Mr. Reneau would come pull me out and say, 'Hey, your grandma called, you need to go be with your mom, you know, she's having a seizure and they don't know what to do,'" Ayden said.

Ayden's teacher Jeffrey Vela has been a huge support for her, even though he said she didn't need it.

"She's a very motivated person, she's one of the few people that I never had to push," Vela said. "I never had to try to get her to do anything, she just always had it done."

Ayden has overcome.

"Just keeping the faith, just keeping that end goal in mind that, this is what I need to do no matter what, and just like knowing that it would make my Mom proud," she said.

And she said she's ready for whatever is to come.

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