Driven student earns college degree before high school diploma - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Driven student earns college degree before high school diploma

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Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at

Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at Contact her at

Michelle Reese covered education for the Tribune, also blogging about motherhood and family issues at

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 1:12 pm | Updated: 3:34 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

On Thursday, Anngela Adams dons her cap and gown as a valedictorian at Ahwatukee Foothills' Mountain Pointe High School.

It may seem a bit like déjà vu since earlier this month, Anngela took part in the Rio Salado College graduation ceremony at Phoenix's Orpheum Theatre where she received her associate's of arts degree.

She received a college diploma before her high school diploma was in her hand.

Through summer community college courses, concurrent enrollment at Mesa Community College and dual enrollment at Rio Salado College, the 17-year-old managed to complete this rare feat.

And she's likely to accomplish even more.

Prior to stepping foot on the Mountain Pointe campus as a student, Anngela took her first college-level courses: algebra and German 101 and 102 at Rio Salado. She enrolled in the classes so she could take a higher levels courses during her freshman year and free up time in her high school schedule for other classes.

Once she started high school, Anngela took advantage of Tempe Union High School District's dual enrollment program with Rio Salado Community College. It allows students to take college-level courses at their high schools and receive both high school and college credit.

This year, about 8,500 students took classes through Rio Salado's dual enrollment program at their schools. For Anngela, it meant college-level geometry, calculus and chemistry, as well as college-level American literature, physics and American government.

"I selected the dual enrollment option because it allowed me to take some of my honors high school classes for both high school and college credit. The classes were taught at Mountain Pointe High School by (Mountain Pointe) teachers that were also college-certified instructors," Anngela explains. "It was very helpful to be able to complete the basic core of college requirements while in high school. From my perspective, this was an excellent way to be highly productive during my high school years."

"Highly productive" seems to be Anngela's mantra. Not only did she excel academically, but she found time to volunteer as a math and literacy tutor and was dance captain for Mountain Pointe's senior dance company her senior year (and danced all four years of high school). During spring break this year, she travelled to Germany where she completed a pre-med practicum.

This school year, 53 high schools partnered with Rio Salado College for dual enrollment programs - including all of the East Valley school districts. But it's not often that a student completes an associate's degree as well. That required Anngela to take extra classes on her own time. But once she learned she was only two classes away from the degree, she decided to go for it.

"I had to set clear goals and boundaries. I wanted to take as many dual enrollment classes as I could. The classes were rigorous, so I had to set my priorities, manage my time well, and work diligently. It was not easy, but it was worth it," she says, noting she took it "day by day, used a daily planner and made daily to-do lists."

With her basic courses out of the way, Anngela plans to enroll at Arizona State University in the fall (with several scholarships to help fund her education) with a major in biomedical engineering.

"I love Arizona and want to remain in state."

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