Waukesha teen graduates high school, college in same school year

While the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many students online, one Waukesha teen used the time home to her advantage – graduating from high school and college in the same school year.

Nicole Cheesman is learning the ins and outs, working at the family business, Sussex Tool and Supply, but is still steadfast toward many dreams.

"I can’t wait to take over the company," Cheesman said. "Work in stocks and work in accounting and work and all the other areas that can help just fill my whole profile."

Cheesman is able to start the process after getting a high school diploma and an associate's degree from Waukesha County Technical College at just 17 years old.

"She’s always been a really ambitious student, really driven," said school counselor Heidi Stigler.

Using the virtual learning platform during the pandemic, Cheesman took part in the Start College Now program at WCTC. It is one of the few schools in Wisconsin that offers an eight-week format so students have the opportunity to take more courses and complete more in the timeframe they are working in.

Nicole Cheesman

"I was able to get a lot of courses in," said Cheesman. "I took the marketing, advanced marketing, and I was able to take all the courses here and I loved it."

This year, it seems there is an increase in students wanting to graduate early and get into the workforce quicker – programs like the one at WCTC make it possible.

"It allows high school students to take college courses off our campus either during their junior or senior year," Stigler said. "Those credits are paid for by our school district so test books are covered as well up to a total of 18 college courses or 18 college credits."

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Cheesman graduated at half-semester from Waukesha North High School and is walking in a ceremony Saturday, June 12. She graduated from WCTC this spring.

Anyone interested in dual credits or the Start College Now program should take to their school counselor about the process and applications.

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