Degrees of Success

Mackenzie Eck (left) is a member of Jordan-Elbridge High School’s and Onondaga Community College’s class of 2019. On June 22 she will receive both her J-E diploma and her OCC associate degree. Eck is pictured with J-E High School Principal Mark Schermerhorn. They are seated in front of a display which pays tribute to J-E’s graduates of distinction.

Mackenzie Eck planned to graduate from high school one year ago. She had powered through her freshman, sophomore and junior years at Jordan-Elbridge and earned enough credits to receive her diploma after just three years. She had also amassed 30 college credits, 23 of those through Onondaga Community College’s “College Credit Now” program which allows students to take college-level classes in their home high schools. Her plans changed after a conversation with her school counselor. “Miss (Jamie) Susino told me ‘there’s this program that could save you some money. You could get college credits. Go to OCC, get ahead and do great things.’”

Eck took her counselor’s advice. During her senior year of high school, she took Physical Education at J-E and attended OCC full time. She earned a total of 33 credits while majoring in Mathematics & Science. Her course load included demanding classes such as Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. “At first my parents told me it would be really hard. I finished my first semester and got all A’s and B’s. That’s when I got really excited and wanted to do more.”

On Saturday, June 22 Eck will be rewarded… twice. During J-E’s graduation ceremony she will receive her high school diploma and her associate degree from OCC. College President Dr. Casey Crabill will be on the stage to personally congratulate her. “It will be a great moment, but I didn’t do this to get attention. I just wanted to get ahead.”

Eck found her OCC experience to be very enjoyable, from the class registration process to the classroom. “I was amazed with all of the support I received. I worked with Jenna Alexander in Advising most of the time. She was great. Even though I was the youngest person in class the professors didn’t treat me any different. I’m really glad I got this opportunity.”

In the fall Eck and all of her 63 college credits will transfer seamlessly to the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She believes her OCC experience has given her the confidence she needs to experience success at a four-year college. “I know a lot of people can be nervous about the transition from high school to college. The OCC program was a really smooth transition. If you take classes in high school and you take classes at OCC, you get the best of both worlds. You can smoothly transition into college.”

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