Yuma, AZ (May 13, 2022) – In addition to their high school diplomas, approximately 47 high school students will also be earning associate degrees tonight at Arizona Western College.

The group will be celebrated during AWC’s 2022 Commencement with a stole featuring their high school logo and AWC logo, and their families will also have reserved seating at the ceremony.

Of the high school students receiving their degrees, 39 are from Yuma Catholic High School, six from Cibola High School, and two from Kofa High School.

Terra Stallworth, Yuma Catholic High School Director of Counseling, shared that this is the largest number of graduates from their campus to earn an associate degree. This is the second cohort of students that could receive all their associate degree coursework from Yuma Catholic High School without leaving campus.

“Thirty-four percent of our graduating class will be earning an associate degree, which is a testament to our partnership with AWC, our administration, faculty, parents, and students,” said Stallworth.

“Students who have taken any dual enrollment courses have experienced higher success at the post-secondary level. They feel prepared and confident in their ability to complete college-level work and have gained invaluable study habits and a strong mindset before they ever step foot onto a college campus. I am amazed at the academic success and student drive that we have cultivated in our 19-year partnership with AWC. This is not something that happened overnight, but was strategically planned to be a sustainable and successful partnership for AWC and Yuma Catholic High School. We are so grateful to AWC for providing this opportunity to our students and the students of Yuma County. AWC’s affordable dual enrollment cost is making education affordable for all students, which benefits the Yuma community.”

David Hudson, a senior at Yuma Catholic, will be graduating from AWC with his Associate of Science degree in Engineering as well as an Associate of Arts in Mathematics.

“I feel truly blessed and thankful to have been given the opportunity and resources to be able to work on these two-year degrees while still in high school,” said Hudson. “Not only did AWC and Yuma Catholic provide me with a head start in my academic career, but I believe that they have also given me something more important: an insight into what university life will be like. AWC is an accredited college that teaches materials on par with other in-state universities in Arizona. By being able to take upper-level courses such as Physics, I can get a preview of what I should come to expect when attending classes at a university.”

Working toward obtaining his degrees wasn’t easy. He knew he would have to put in extra time and effort, even during summer and winter breaks, to be able to achieve his goal of finishing by the time he graduated from high school. Despite the challenges, he said he’s thankful to have had the opportunity to earn his college degrees.

For Yuma Catholic senior Victoria Diaz, trying to balance her coursework with every aspect of her daily life was difficult, especially having to give up time with friends and family to finish assignments or quizzes. But following through and being rewarded with a degree has made it all worthwhile. Diaz will be earning her Associate of Arts degree.

“This experience taught me a lot about myself and how I could grow as a person. Quarantine definitely tested my limits, much like everyone else, but I am glad I was able to pull through to the other side,” she said.

Fellow Yuma Catholic senior Sergio Rico will be receiving his Associate in Science degree during AWC’s Commencement.

Living an hour away from his high school campus and relying on Yuma County Area Transit (YCAT) buses to get to school and back home meant he had to be very purposeful with his time management. He shared that taking tougher college-level courses online during the pandemic was the hardest part of the whole process, because it was such an unexpected change of pace.

“I am a first-generation student, so having this accomplishment is something that I am proud of,” said Rico. “I am really glad that I am able to attend graduation with my peers as well as family members, since many people have not been able to participate in past years due to the pandemic.”

High school students can take classes at AWC for a reduced rate of $25 per credit hour until the age of 18, either as a dual enrollment student earning both high school and college credit in a class taught at their high school or as a concurrent student taking classes at the college or online for credit. Visit azwestern.edu/admissions and click on the “17 & Under Students” tab for more information.