Student graduates from CSEC and from CTU

       Jenna Rock, 19, may be the first student ever to finish four years of high school and earn a college degree at the same time, according to Colorado Springs Early Colleges (CSEC) founder Keith King (see letter, this page).

Jenna Rock

       Rock will attend CSEC graduation Friday, May 27. Her diploma from Colorado Technical University (CTU) is coming June 17.
       She even has a job lined up. The electrical engineering major has been hired at Honeywell, she said in an interview this week.
       The job doesn't start until August. But Rock doesn't think that's so bad. After all, she's had a full load of class work every summer since her freshman year. “I'm taking some time off before I jump right in,” she said.
       CSEC is a state-chartered, no-tuition, no-attendance-area high school that advertises to students that if they apply themselves they could graduate with a two-year associates degree. But Rock figured out by her freshman year that all the engineering-related classes she needed were at CTU - which by happy coincidence is on the same campus as CSEC (leasing the high school space in one of its buildings at 4435 N. Chestnut St.).
       Another favorable discovery for Rock was that CTU runs year-round, on the quarter system. So while most of her CSEC classmates were taking two college-level courses a year (fall and spring semesters), she was taking four.
       “She's a pretty amazing girl,” King said.
       Another big plus was the cost savings. CSEC is a no-tuition school, covering the expense for nearly all its students' college-level classes (at CTU, UCCS and Pikes Peak Community College). King said that Rock's four-year degree from CTU, a private university, would have cost about $100,000 if Rock had attended the conventional way. As it was, she said her total costs came to less than $1,000.
       When CSEC opened for its first year 2007-08, she and her parents decided to enroll her there so she could “start working on getting college credit,” Rock recalled. But by second semester she'd upped the ante, heading toward the CTU-graduation goal she's now achieved.
       “It's not for everyone, but it is for everyone who wants to work hard and doesn't like being bored in high school,” she said. “That's what it was for me, bored in high school.”
       She didn't broadcast her efforts around the school. Many of her classmates just found out in the last three months. “They were saying, 'Wow, how did you do it'?” Rock said. The school faculty knew what she was trying to accomplish, “but it was only this year that they started saying, 'You're really doing it,'” she said.
       Now she feels she's primed for the working world. “I'm ready to start something different,” she said, and agreed that a steady paycheck won't be so bad either.
       But that's not till August. For now, she plans to rediscover how it feels to have a summer off.

Westside Pioneer article