Two Hyde County students made history Friday, May 11, at the 45th annual Beaufort County Community College graduation exercises.
Maggie Anderson, of Lake Landing, and Maurita Harris, of Fairfield, became the first Early College High School Students to earn associate degrees from BCCC which they earned along with a high school diploma.
For their efforts they received a standing ovation from the crowd of some 1,000 students, family members and BCCC officials, faculty and staff members who at- tended the graduation exercises at Washington High School.
“Many students will take the opportunity to attend the Early College High School and graduate,” said Wesley Beddard, BCCC dean of instruction, in introducing the two to the audience. “But you will always be the first.” Anderson and Harris completed the five-year program in four years – a year ahead of their fellow ECHS classmates – thanks to a grueling academic schedule and honed time management skills, the two said in an interview before the graduation ceremony.
“I’ve learned to manage my time and not procrastinate,” said Anderson, 18, who, this fall, is scheduled to attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where she will study speech therapy and special education.”
“I feel like I have accomplished something,” said Harris, 18, who is scheduled to attend N.C. State University this fall and pursue degrees in psychology and textiles while also studying Spanish.
The two have been best friends and have helped encourage each other through- out their high school and community college studies and can even finish each other’s sentences.
Anderson and Harris said they are looking forward to attending university and believe the study skills they learned during their high school years will serve them well as they continue their studies.
“I think it will be better for us,” said Harris.
Added Anderson: “That’s because we already have the work ethic that we will need.”
BCCC offers students in Beaufort, Hyde and Tyrrell counties the chance to take high school and tuition-free community college courses and graduate in five years with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in the field of their choice.
The students face a rigorous schedule of classes in the ninth grade – equivalent to honors courses in a traditional high school – that prepare them to begin taking community college courses as early as the 10th grade.
“It’s difficult to say how proud I am of Maggie and Maurita,” said Lisa Hill, BCCC liaison to the early college high schools. The fact that these students are the first early college high school graduates in the history of the college is by itself an accomplishment. But to earn both a high school degree and an associate’s degree in just four years, is remarkable!
“I admire them for their perseverance and hope that other early college high school students will follow in their footsteps,” she said. “I feel confident both girls will be successful as they continue their education at the universities of their choice.”
That night, BCCC awarded some 239 degrees, diplomas, certificates and high-school equivalency degrees at its commencement exercises held at Washington High School.