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Bar Raised for Incoming High School Students

July 11, 2023

Graduating college before high school may sound like an impossible task, but student commitment, secondary vision, and post-secondary collaboration makes this feat increasingly possible.

LaVergne High School Graduates

LaVergne High School Graduates - Front row from left to right: Jorgan Petit Cabrera, Kevin Rodriguez, Zion Griffin, Henry Bello, Luis Pineda, Carlos Serrano, Muhammad Israr, Briley Hutson, Justin Arrango Aroyo.

Second row: Kori Grimes, Tatiana Torres, LaNya Woods, Mia Bush, Motlow College President Dr. Michael Torrence, Olivia Gross, Aryana Nhon, Mia Nicholson, Marya Ayoub, Karen Barsoum, Nataly Rezk.

Third row: Madonna Isaac, Makieya Bush, Kira Tyus, Rhian Hodge, Leisly Moran, India Ivory, Tremylah Harris, Jennifer Remy, Adajha Jackson.

Graduates not pictured: Keziah Liggon, Hannah Juca, Jocelyn Mancilla, Dannette Enriquez.

This year, Motlow saw 87 dual enrollment students receive a college degree before a high school degree. This unique group of high school college graduates is the new benchmark for rising classes. Their ability to graduate college before graduating high school is a testament to the opportunities now available to all students. According to Sally Pack, Director of High School Initiatives, "These students walked in graduation at Motlow in early May and then walked in graduation later the same month at their high school. That's huge! They all worked very hard and followed a plan we all helped to outline for them so that they could receive dual credit in classes for high school and college. This allowed them to receive a two-for-one value, and those short-term gains helped them achieve many long-term benefits."

The state of Tennessee is committed to raising college-going aspirations among all high school students by requiring that all high school students receive early post-secondary opportunities (EPSOs). These EPSO's can include Advanced Placement classes, Cambridge International Exams, College Learning Examination Programs, International Baccalaureates, Local Dual Credits, Statewide Dual Credits, and Student Industry Certifications. Through the collaboration between Motlow and high schools throughout its service area, regional EPSO experiences have also become the gateway to graduating college before high school.

Research reveals that dual enrollment benefits both the student and the school by reducing tuition costs, raising high school graduation rates, elevating college-going aspirations, raising cumulative GPAs for first-time/full-time college students, and increasing engagement with underserved populations. Students who complete dual enrollment are more likely to enroll in college after high school and be more persistent in their pursuits. Dual enrollment reduces the need for remediation when matriculating to full-time college-student status, increases graduation rates, and raises the likelihood of graduating on time. Students can also reduce the time necessary to complete a degree, increase their confidence in their choice of major, gain student success in matriculating from a two-year college to a four-year university, and lose fewer credits through program alignment. 

All high school students within Motlow’s 11-county service area have the opportunity to take dual enrollment classes to get a head start on their college careers. Many students have the option to take dual enrollment classes at their local high schools. As a result of this, many high schools all over the surrounding areas were represented in the 87 dual enrollment graduates this year. Two outstanding examples of high schools that have worked with Motlow to promote dual enrollment excellence are LaVergne and Rockvale High Schools. They have both invested in a dual-enrollment relationship with Motlow and consistently see a growing number of students graduate both college and high school each May. 

LaVergne began offering dual enrollment courses in 2012 and added the option to complete an associate degree in 2018. The Early College Program began in 2021 and has grown to become a powerful pathway for LaVergne students, many of whom have gone on to achieve acceptance at the nation's leading 4-year universities. This year, LaVergne saw 28 students take advantage of these resources and get an early start on their professional careers. In addition to many of its students achieving acceptance at major universities, several LaVergne students in the program’s short history have also been offered full scholarships at Ivy League institutions such as Princeton and Yale.  

Eleven students from Rockvale High School (RHS) took advantage of the opportunity to earn an EMS certification, allowing them to leave high school and transfer directly to the workforce. Through the efforts of Motlow’s EMS Director Houston Austin, RHS gave its students the opportunity to earn life-saving knowledge that gave them an opportunity to graduate college and high school and take advantage of early career opportunities.

Rockvale High School Students

Rockvale High School Students - Front row from left to right: Nolan Harding, Nina Taylor, Adrieanna Mercado, Mera Ishak, Aastha Oza, Madilyn Ackerson, Rockvale High School Health Science CTE Stormer Dicola.

Back row: Motlow EMS Director Houston Austin, Korry Bradley, Danielle Dunaway, Caity Griffin, Brooke Higginbotham, Calysta Phinney.

These students embody Motlow’s mission of student success and workforce development by meeting high academic standards and entering the workforce sooner through their effort and dedication. Their accomplishments are a testament to the many benefits of dual enrollment.

For more information on how to enroll in dual enrollment classes, visit Motlow at

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