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High School seniors in Amarillo graduating from Amarillo College before High School

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 9:41 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - 44 high school seniors across Amarillo will be graduating from Amarillo college before walking the stage at their own high school graduations this May.

The students will walk the stage at Hodge Town for the Amarillo College ceremony on May 14, and will then receive their diplomas from high schools a couple weeks later.

The program is called Diplomas and Degrees, and is very similar dual credit programs. However, it takes it one step farther and allows high school students to complete an associates degree.

These students, each with their own drive and ambitions, have been hitting the books to complete their associates degree on top of balancing several extra curricular activities.

“Since I am not actually in the class physically, I would have to go in at any point and spare time just to study for those tests, get those classes taken care of,” said Amaia Chiles, student at Amarillo High School and part of the Diplomas and Degrees Program.

Amaia Chiles, will be the only senior at Amarillo High School to accomplish it this year.

“There was nobody that I could just vent to like ‘Oh my gosh this class is so hard’, because I was the only one,” said Chiles.

She says the support from her friends and mom is what kept her going.

“If I did not have her [mother], I would literally not know what to do half the time,” said Chiles.

Her mom says she gives her too much credit, but has always pushed education as a priority, and is now seeing her daughter rise to the occasion.

“You know for a lot of years; it was her and I. And I always knew that I wanted her to succeed, that I wanted her to go above and beyond,” said Jeremy Thompson, Amaia’s mother.

Chiles started the program at Ascension Academy before transferring to Amarillo High School. Her mother says there were a lot of sacrifices made, but were worth it.

“We had to scrimp, we had to save, we had to put back,Ii mean she had to buy books. But, in perspective I mean at a four-year university you can’t beat the price point of Amarillo College or any junior college for that matter,” said Thompson.

The saved cost, is also what attracted Brianna Davis an Ascension Academy student, to the program.

“The first thing I thought was immediately saving money. I knew i was going to be paying for my own college. I was lucky enough to have parents and grandparents that could get me through Ascension and AC, but college is a whole other beast,” said Davis “So, I always knew that, and I always knew that if I had any opportunity to save money, I would gladly take it, so that was kinda my main drive.”

Davis is also involved in various programs at school and is among the first ten seniors from Ascension Academy who will be graduating through this program.

“Hopefully I get my bachelors within two years and I am able to get a job in the next two years and start focusing on my career a lot earlier than a lot of people would be able to and that is a huge opportunity. That way I can kick start my life and get my feet underneath me before I start a family and such,” said Davis.

Davis will attend the University of Oklahoma in the Fall as an econ major, and Chiles will attend Texas Southern University as a Biology major.

Chiles says she had offers from other schools to play basketball but decided it was important for her to attend an historically black university.

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