DUAL DEGREES: PCHS students earn high school, college degrees simultaneously

Published 3:00 am Friday, May 26, 2017

For two Pike County High School seniors, graduating from the Business and Finance Academy, meant a lot more than just making the grade.

The Business and Finance Academy at Pike County High School is one of four academies located in Pike County and Troy City Schools. It is also one of a kind because the high school also houses a bank. Pike County and Troy City Boards of Education, Enterprise State Community College and The First National Bank partnered in the 2013-2014 school year to make this program possible.

The director of the academy is Jon K. Sonmor.

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Requirements for the program are: to pass the ACT or COMPASS Test, an interview, teacher recommendations, pass prerequisite classes, learn to operate the in-house bank and pass all of the required courses in the two year enrollment period (70 credit hours). Student selection is also based on the encouragement to complete 60 hours of community service. At the conclusion of the program, high school seniors will graduate with an associate’s degree in applied sciences from Enterprise State Community College, as well as, a degree from their high school. The best part is, these students received their associate degrees completely debt free.

Pike County High School seniors, James Taylor Gomillion and Ninti Jackson, are just two examples of this program at work. Taylor’s mother, Tracy Garrett, is an employee at First National Bank and sees daily how the academy will have a lasted effect on her family.

“I feel very blessed and fortunate that my employer helps fund the very program that my son just graduated from. Seeing him walk across that stage made me very proud and emotional,” Garrett said.

Gomillion is excited to walk away from high school with 70 credit hours under his belt. He says that being a high school senior and a dual-enrolled college student was not an easy feat.

“It was challenging but taught me a lot about myself as a person. It taught me to never give up. I now feel more prepared for college and what college life will be like,” Gomillion said.

Ninti Jackson, another recent academy graduate, has a special connection to the academy because as she was dual-enrolled in high school and college classes, she was also working at First National Bank as a student intern.

“It was a lot of hard work but I made it through because of the employees at First National Bank. It was a great support system and they were there to encourage me and help me through the academy,” Jackson said.

Jackson says it was a struggle to balance all of her school activities with college classes and interning but she is proud to now be on the other side with her Associate Degree. She is looking forward to starting her next chapter in life with more college in the fall. She also received many scholarships in the process. She received the: Brundidge Rotary Scholarship, Pike County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Scholarship, the South East Alabama Gas District Scholarship and the Delta Sigma Theta Scholarship, all totaling around $3,750. Jackson, a first generation college graduate, plans to attend Troy University and will major in marketing with a minor in business.

Gomillion, who will start at Troy University in the fall, is a first generation college graduate for his family, as well. He plans to major in marine biology.

To learn more about the Business and Finance Academy or any of the other academies visit the Pike County Board of Education website at www.pikecountyschools.com. The four academies include the Business and Finance Academy at Pike County High School, Agri-Science Academy at Goshen High School, Culinary Arts Academy at Charles Henderson High School and the First in Flight Academy at the Troy Municipal Airport.