WCHS 2019 Graduate, Jessie Allison, presenting a speech about how she was able to obtain an associates degree and a high school degree as a virtual student during the May Board of Education Meeting.
(L-R) Jessie Allison receives a certificate of recognition from Chairperson Donna Blevins
(L-R) Board Member Jarrod Criswell, Chairperson Donna Blevins, Jessie Allison, Vice Chairperson Melissa Upchurch, Board Member Whitney Smith, and Board Member Larry Muse
Allison headed to WKU after being first Wayne County High School student to earn an associate’s degree
Wayne County High School 2019 graduate Jessie Allison will go down in school history for being Wayne County Schools’ first student to receive a college associate’s degree, at the same time she obtained her recent high school diploma.
This milestone was recognized by the Wayne County Board of Education, as well as Wayne County High School at the close of the school year. Allison is a perfect example of how a non-traditional, very motivated student can push themselves to high levels.
Her achievement is a dream of administrators that goes back four years ago when the early college facet of the Pathways Program was launched. The early college program is a perfect fit for families in Wayne County interested in the cost savings incurred when their children have to travel a considerable distance, paying for housing and all the long distance expenses at a university or college. The dual credit classes offered at the high school are less expensive and give students a leg up on the cost of a college education, perhaps keeping them from having to obtain student loans.
Administrators from both Wayne County Schools and Somerset Community College celebrated her achievement because Allison made that dream come true by obtaining 60 hours of dual credit college classes. She earned an Associate’s Degree from Somerset Community College, as a result of her efforts and dedication to her studies. She is amongst only a handful of students that have obtained an early college degree from Somerset Community College, in the last few years, by taking advantage of dual credit courses offered at the high school level.
Dr. Carey Castle, president of Somerset Community College, offered his congratulations to the Wayne County student at the local Senior Honors Award Ceremony, after Wayne County Superintendent Wayne Roberts and Chief Academic Officer Brian Dishman had already congratulated Allison at a previous recognition ceremony.
“Jessie is a great example of a student who has been successful with dual credit classes. She has proved that she is self-disciplined, responsible, highly motivated, and mature enough to handle both the academic and social aspects of college. She has accomplished a major milestone in her college education all while enrolled in high school. She has a huge head start whether she wants to continue her education or go straight into the workforce,” said Dr. Castle, during the Wayne County High School Honors Night Program.
“Jessie, I congratulate you on a job well done,” said Dr. Castle.
“We are very proud of all our dual credit students and how dual enrollment has grown in recent years. This has been a collaborative effort, and I am grateful to all the high schools and the dual credit program leaders who have partnered with us to make this program successful,” Dr. Castle concluded.
Somerset Community College Dual Credit Coordinator Judy Tallent said, “Jessie is an incredible young lady. Her commitment to her online studies say a lot about her character and perseverance.”
Tallent said five of Allison’s college classes came from Wayne County High School. “I work with 18 schools. In Wayne County, you all have more college credentialed staff members than any of the other schools I work with.”
Wayne County High School has set the bar for many years in employing teachers who are qualified to teach at both the high school and college level, in this geographic area. Therefore, students can take advantage of college classes being taught in person at the high school during the school day, as well as choose from online classes.
“Wayne County has been incredibly good to work with because they promote dual credit courses and want that opportunity for their students,” said Tallent.
Allison spent her senior year being a virtual student where she worked completely online from home taking college courses. She had been taking some dual credit courses since her sophomore year, as well as a couple of classes each summer in order to accumulate so many college hours.
She easily adapted to online classes from home. She acknowledged that Math was not her strongest subject, but other than that, she found the online courses to be really convenient. “I really didn’t have any trouble. Online courses were easier because she could learn at her own pace. Her only regret was not being better acquainted with the professors. ”A lot of them seemed like they would be really nice people to know in person,” she said.
Motivating herself was not really an issue. “I do love learning. History is my favorite subject…I’m good at writing. Learning about the world is amazing,” she said. “I love, love, love reading.”
“I wanted to work hard. If there is an opportunity to get better, I want to do it to better myself,” explained Allison. “The online college classes are not so different from high school. So, if you can save thousands of dollars why not do it.”
She noted how expensive college is and she did not want to accumulate any debt starting out her adult life.
So, this wise beyond her 18-years graduate is headed to Western Kentucky University to start her junior year, having a 3.95 high school grade point average, a 26 on the ACT, and an Associate’s Degree under her belt. She appreciates the opportunity to have personalized her high school experience. “All of the teachers that I’ve had at Wayne County have been great. I’ve been really lucky because all of my teachers have been really good.”
Besides being a high academic achiever, she also has a lovely voice and is a talented visual artist. She has sung at local events like ballgames and school events, Veteran’s Day Parade, and horse shows. “It’s terrifying in front of other people, but I enjoy it,” grinned Allison.
Inspired by her grandmother, who was an elementary teacher, and having had an opportunity to work in the 21st Century school program teaching art - she has decided to major in elementary education and art education.
“I loved it when students were excited about a project. I loved being able to help them if they wanted advice or answers, and I just genuinely enjoyed spending time with them and getting to know them,” said Allison. “I just thought, I could do this for the rest of my life.”
Allison shared a final thought that has guided her. “God said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children and that we are to be like them. (Matthew 19:14 and Matthew 18:3) I love children and I want to dedicate myself to caring for them. I want to teach them and be there for them so that they can learn and grow well. I worry about being the best teacher I can potentially be, but I know I can also continue listening to other amazing teachers and I can pray.”
Allison is the daughter of William and Jennifer Allison.