Snead State’s Dual Enrollment Program Offers Douglas Student Unique Opportunity
Jailin Jimenez is not your typical high school senior. Not only will she graduate from Douglas High School in May, but also she’s on track to earn her Associate degree from Snead State Community College one week before her high school graduation.
Jailin enrolled as a dual enrollment student with Snead State’s Child Development Program when she was a high school sophomore, thanks to a Workforce Development grant that paved the way for students like her. The grant funded all courses for dual enrollment students required under specific career technical programs such as Snead State’s Child Development, Computer Science Technology, Industrial Technology, Nursing Assistant, and Office Administration. The purpose of the Workforce Development grant is to align the workforce needs throughout Alabama and the needs of employers in each of the 10 workforce regions.
“I wanted to enroll in a career tech program. When it came time to sign up, I wasn’t even sure what Child Development was exactly. I thought I’d try it just to see what it was about,” Jailin said.
“I had never really thought about a career before. If I had to say what I wanted to do, I thought maybe be a dermatologist or something like that. But once I took the program, I realized that I really like teaching,” she added.
The Child Development program has provided Jailin with hands-on experience in working with children. She served as a student teacher with the pre-kindergarten program with the Marshall County Schools. She was able to work close to her high school while learning more about becoming a teacher. She was also able to complete her college courses at the high school since Snead State’s Child Development Program is available entirely online.
“I had a good picture of what it would be like. I like working with the younger children. I have an 8-year-old brother who wants to be a teacher, too, and I’ve been mentoring him,” Jailin said.
“What I like about dual enrollment is it gives students an opportunity to do something after high school when they may not have had the opportunity otherwise,” said Jennifer Burns, a teacher with the Douglas Pre-K program who worked closely with Jailin. “They are able to further their education while in high school. The college opportunities come to them, which is ideal for those students who don’t have the financial resources or transportation or family support to pursue a degree on their own.”
Snead State Director of the Child Development Program Dr. Karen Watts said, “Dual enrollment opportunities give students an idea to find out what they’re passionate about and allows them to get a feel for what careers are available.”
Dr. Watts said currently Snead State’s dual enrollment program is serving eight schools, two counties and one private school. There are 27 dual enrollment students enrolled in the Child Development Program alone. “More and more, students are discovering that the program is a good foundation for careers in early childhood education,” Dr. Watts said.
“Jailin came into the program as a sophomore and was taking classes at the Marshall Technical School before she was able to take the classes at her high school. I was amazed at her ability from the very beginning,” said Dr. Watts. “She’s been an asset to the Pre-K program at Douglas.”
In addition to taking college courses during the school year, Jailin picked up summer classes as well. She earned her Child Development certificate in May 2015 but definitely did not want to stop there. “I’m determined to finish my degree. It’s an awesome opportunity, and I want to make the most of it by finishing.”
The high school senior doesn’t plan to stop with just her Associate degree. She plans to transfer from Snead State to Athens State University to pursue a Bachelor degree in early childhood education. She aspires to earn a Master degree and a Ph.D.
“Because of I’ve been able to finish high school with a college degree, I’m young enough to keep going with my education. My teachers have been very encouraging to me, and my family is supportive,” she said.
“Jailin is very goal oriented, and she is achieving those goals,” said Mrs. Burns. “With state-funded preschools like ours, workers are required to have a certain number of Child Development hours and a two-year education before they can be employed. With the dual enrollment program, they are coming out of high school already qualified to go to work.”
Jailin encourages other students to look into the dual enrollment program. “It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. You have to put the time into it, but it’s worth it.”
Jailin is no stranger to hard work. She holds down a part-time job as well as going to high school and completing her college classes. She’s maintained a 4.0 GPA and was placed on the President’s List her last semester. On Tuesday, Oct. 20, she was inducted into Snead State’s Theta Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
Snead State currently has 70 students taking advantage of the Workforce Development grant with the Child Development program being the most popular option and the Nursing Assistant program being a close second. Under the guidelines in the grant, students who maintain a 2.5 high school GPA may also take academic classes if they pair the classes with career tech offerings.