Susana Torres is graduating from high school and college — in the same month.
The 18-year-old Pathways Middle College senior and kinesiology major received an associate degree at OCCC’s commencement May 16. She will get a high school diploma from Pathways Middle College later this month.
Pathways Middle College is a secondary school housed at OCCC which allows students to take college courses as early as their sophomore year of high school.
Torres said it was her older sister who first inspired her to complete an associate degree while in high school. Marisol Torres graduated from Pathways in 2012 and from OCCC May 16.
“My sister … sat down with me and said ‘you can really do this if you try … if you push yourself,’” Torres said. “At first, I was shocked that I could take [college courses] my sophomore year and so I said, ‘I’ll do the best I can.’”
Torres said small class sizes at OCCC also played a factor in her decision.
“I think the student-to-teacher ratio really affected me,” she said. “They really strive to make their students the best they can (be).”
With a full school schedule, Torres said, she still made time for a part-time job during her junior year.
“My junior year was a lot tougher for me but I learned how to balance myself out … .”
“[Completing] both [high school and obtaining an associate degree] were challenging for me — balancing out my work and my personal life with school,” Torres said.
Torres is now working as an assistant at Moore Primary Care which, she said, is giving her experience in her field of study.
She said she plans to attend courses at OSU-OKC for the summer until she goes to Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee in the Fall to complete a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.
Torres said she credits her time at OCCC for her decision to go forward with a higher degree.
“I think the staff at Pathways … and even the OCCC professors really gave me a desire to finish a bachelor’s degree and going on to [complete] a doctorate’s [degree].”
For more information about Pathways, visit http://okcps.pathways.schooldesk.net.