Students Earn College Degree Before High School Graduation

May 31, 2024 sdawkins Blog

Kevin Lovera (left) and Connor Hughes completed Jefferson State's Welding Dual Enrollment Program before graduating from Pinson Valley High School.Connor Hughes and Kevin Lovera were among the large class of Jefferson State graduates who walked across the stage of the Alabama Theatre on May 3, but there was one difference: the two had earned a college degree before finishing at Pinson Valley High School.

Thanks to dual enrollment welding classes, Hughes and Lovera have the distinction of finishing college before their high school graduation on May 20.

Hughes remembers his introduction to welding: in his front yard with his brother, working on a toolbox. He liked it, and first learned welding in an educational setting in high school—the same was Lovera.

As sophomores at Pinson Valley, Hughes and Lovera were informed about Jefferson State’s dual enrollment program and decided to give it a shot.

“They told me the classes would be paid for and that I could get college experience,” Lovera said.

After some time in the program, instructor Jeff Wiley talked to the two about their progress.

“I sat them down and said, ‘With this career plan, you can finish this even before you finish high school,’” Wiley said.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet, but I’m sure it will a week or two from now. All glory to God, he put me on this path,” Hughes said. “All I had to pay for was a cap and gown.”

Lovera added, “It’s exciting, just knowing you graduated college before high school—it’s special. If it wasn’t for dual enrollment, I wouldn’t have been here.”

Hughes and Lovera didn’t just complete their college requirements. They excelled while doing so. They finished first and second, respectively, in the Navigator Cup competition that was held at JSCC.

Hughes had already entered the workforce before his high school graduation. He worked with a contracting company. Hughes said he likes contract work because it offers the opportunity to always be doing something different and learning new things.

Lovera, meanwhile, plans to attend UAB and earn a business management degree and start his own business.

Hughes and Lovera said many people find it hard to believe that they could graduate from college before high school.

“My dad told me to be sure to bring my transcript because most jobs won’t believe me,” Hughes said.