AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Fall graduation tends to be a smaller ceremony but it's one for the history books at Amarillo College.
More than 800 students are eligible to graduate at Amarillo College Friday evening, that's the school's largest fall graduation ever. The school is crediting it's new 8-week program for the sudden spike, and one of this evening's graduates says the new course helped turn her life around.
When 25-year-old America Adame puts on her cap and gown, she thinks back to when she first started at Amarillo College and how it helped her to get where she is today -- a graduate and a commencement speaker.
"It's definitely something I'm really honored to do," said Adame. "Not only am I going to share my story in giving the commencement speech but this is many college students stories. So, I hope every single graduate is able to relate to the words I have to say."
When she was 21, the father of her two daughters was arrested for murder. The day he was sentenced to 45 years in prison was a turning point in her life.
"So at that time, that's when I thought I need to further my education. I need to do something with myself and so I started at AC," said Adame.
She began taking traditional 16-week courses. But last year Amarillo College rolled out 8-week courses AND that really propelled her.
"So, I took seven classes in eight weeks and it was pretty stressful and it was really hard, but every single person at Amarillo College let me know how great I was and how I had the potential to successfully complete these 21 hours," said Adame.
And she isn't alone. In fact, Amarillo College says the accelerated courses could be the reason behind their biggest fall graduation ceremony.
"The numbers show not only are students taking more offerings but they're being more successful in those eight week courses," said Director of Communications and Marketing for Amarillo College, Wes Condray.
And because of the success, the college plans for 80-85% of classes to be eight weeks long so more students like Adame can succeed.
"Really focusing them on completion because once they get that degree doors are just going to open," said Condray.
"You are worth being successful not matter what life has tried to teach you, everyone is worth being successful," said Adame.