A Degree Ahead
Class of 2023
"CCP has been such a rewarding opportunity, and I'm so thankful for the instructors and staff at my high school and Wake Tech for their support and guidance."
— Kimberly Leiva-Sorto
Eighteen-year-old Kimberly Leiva-Sorto is a Wake Tech graduate. That’s right, she's 18 years old!
Thanks to the college's Career and College Promise (CCP) program, the South Garner High School senior has earned an Associate in Arts degree and is already two years in on her bachelor's degree.
Leiva-Sorto is one of 12 students this spring who achieved the major accomplishment of finishing an associate degree – tuition-free – at Wake Tech while attending high school. That's a record number of CCP students who earned their two-year degree in a program whose enrollment has skyrocketed to about 2,400 students.
"CCP has been such a rewarding opportunity, and I'm so thankful for the instructors and staff at my high school and Wake Tech for their support and guidance," she said. "It's incredible that I'm going to receive my college degree a month before I graduate from high school."
Leiva-Sorto learned about CCP from her career development coordinator at South Garner High. Timothy Walker explained that she could earn credits toward a college degree or possibly even earn an associate degree through the program if she worked hard.
"I thought to myself, that's impossible and unattainable," she said. "Little did I know I would be here four years later."
CCP offers high school students the opportunity to explore more than 40 academic programs. Courses are tuition-free, saving them and their families money on college tuition while also lightening their future course load in college. Some CCP courses provide a jump-start to a career, with job training, skills and certifications.
Ever since she was in eighth grade, Leiva-Sorto has dreamed of attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This fall, she will! She said she believes the rigor of earning her associate degree as a high school student likely made her application stand out from the rest.
"It was difficult, but very rewarding," she said. "I could have been doing other things with my time, but nothing else was as valuable to me as this."
Leiva-Sorto said the CCP program reinforced the importance of strong time management and study skills, which she says will help her hit the ground running this fall at UNC. She's still deciding her major but says she's considering a career in health care, perhaps as a nurse, a physician's assistant or a physical therapist.
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