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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Rising Star

When Meleah Barnes graduates from Vista Ridge High School in Falcon School District 49 in May, she will receive not only her high school diploma but also her associate degree in business.Barnes said she is taking part in the concurrent enrollment program through the district that allows her to take college courses, in addition to the high school courses she needs to graduate. She currently takes classes at the Pikes Peak Community College Rampart campus.According to the D 49 website, students participating in concurrent enrollment ìearn free college credits on both high school and college campuses while completing high school graduation requirements.î Students must earn at least a ìCî in each college course they take, or they must reimburse the district for the cost of that courseís tuition and fees.ìThe thing that attracted me the most to the program was the opportunity to save myself a lot of money,î Barnes said. ìI have always been a planner, and it is going to save me a lot of money with how I have got everything for my future set up.îBarnes will attend the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in the fall, with plans to get her business administration degree so she can become a business owner. ìI either want to own my own restaurant or hotel or inn, something in the hospitality business,î she said. ìIt is just something I have always wanted to do, and I have been told that I am a people person.îWith 60 credits already under her belt, Barnes said she will technically enter UCCS as a freshman, but will only need two more years of credits to graduate with a bachelorís degree. The road has not been easy since so much time has been spent on school work. ìIt is worth it because I am getting my degree paid for,î she said.Barnes also works at Gulfeagle Supply Co. in Colorado Springs. ìI go to class in the morning on some days and work after that, or I work before and then go to class after work,î she said.With three concurrent enrollment courses on her agenda, along with her high school courses, Barnes said she does not have much free time. ìI do not get to see a lot of people that I used to, and I miss my friends,î Barnes said. She does find time to participate in the track and field program at Vista, where she throws discus and shot put.Barnes said her drive to succeed came, in part, from watching her older sister succeed in a similar manner. ìShe went to a prep high school and was always kind of ahead in school, so that is what prompted me to be a little more school-savvy,î she said.Overall, Barnes said the experience through the concurrent enrollment program has been great. Attending classes at PPCC with a variety of students of dissimilar ages and backgrounds helped her see things in a different way.While Barnes said she knows the concurrent enrollment route is not right for everyone, she would still recommend it to students thinking about participating. ìThe people that do concurrent enrollment usually really like it,î she said. ìIt is going to get you out of bed, and you actually like the classes.ìYou do have to be pretty self-disciplined, though. You have to have a goal in mind and keep working toward that goal.î

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