Charter school senior class to dual-enroll at Rowan

Charter school senior class to dual-enroll at Rowan

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An innovative pilot program that builds upon President Ali Houshmand’s commitment to increasing access to a four-year degree, particularly among underserved populations, will this year enable 120 high school students to earn up to a year’s worth of college credits for free.

The students, seniors at LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, will take up to four college courses during the fall and spring semesters.

Attending both Rowan University in Camden and Rutgers University Camden, the students will be split among groups of 60, with one group attending Rowan in the fall and one attending Rutgers, then switching in the spring.

Credits earned during the dual enrollment program, the first of its type in New Jersey, will be transferrable to either university or to another institution.

On Aug. 1, Rowan hosted an orientation in its Camden Academic Building that drew more than 150 attendees, many of them incoming students, their parents and grandparents.

Addressing the group, Dr. Horacio Sosa, Vice President of Rowan’s division of Global Learning & Partnerships, said the program with LEAP Academy is the latest development in a nearly 50-year relationship between Rowan and Camden, where the University’s original city campus was founded in 1969.

Sosa urged students to make the most of the opportunity to attend college while still in high school but to know it won’t be easy. During their semester at Rowan, students will take up to four of the five college-level courses offered: Calculus, Reasoning with Function (an algebra course), Fundamentals of Writing, Human Biology and Basic Nutrition – earning credits for both their senior year in high school and their freshman college year.

“We are here to help you, but the work will be on you,” Sosa said. “You’re going to be tested.”

He said officials from LEAP and its partner institutions at Rowan and Rutgers hope the dual enrollment model will be repeated annually.

Attending the orientation, Ameerah Roberts, 17, of Camden, said she’s not sure about a major yet but she’s okay with that.

“I’m just so excited,” she said “This will give me a head start on college where I don’t have to worry about paying for tuition.”

Sitting beside her, Ameerah’s grandmother, Esther Lewis, said she’s confident the bright young woman will succeed in any major she chooses.

“She’s been an A student since she started school,” Lewis said. “Whatever she’ll be, I’ll be thrilled.”

Founded in 1997, the LEAP Academy challenges students with a curriculum that emphasizes STEM education and boasts a 100 percent college placement rate.

Speaking afterward, Rowan Global Learning & Partnerships Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Lorraine Ricchezza said officials from all three partner schools are excited about the program’s potential.

“It’s important because it furthers one of Rowan’s stated goals – access to higher education,” Ricchezza said. “I’ve been both a teacher and an administrator and, for me, this is really a worthwhile endeavor.”