Raven Osborne is the first student in the history of Indiana to earn a bachelor’s degree before receiving her high school diploma! A week before she gets her diploma in May, she’ll be graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in early childhood education.
Raven is a senior at 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana, and has been taking college classes since she was 14. The charter school pays college tuition for students who earn admission to partner colleges while still in high school. Most students are able to receive credit for a few college courses while in high school, but Raven accomplished a whole bachelor’s degree of college credits. Each semester, she took five classes, or 15 hours, at Purdue, while simultaneously taking classes at the charter school.
Raven never told any of the college students she met at Purdue that she also was a high school student. She doesn't drive so her mother and the charter school took her back and forth to university. “It was very hard,” she said. “At one point, I also tried to work a job. I was working a midnight shift at a day care center. I just had to watch the children while they were sleeping, then feed them breakfast when they woke up. It was a daycare for parents who worked a night shift. Eventually it just got to be too stressful, and I had to resign.”
Kevin Teasley, president and CEO of Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation, which runs 21st Century Charter School, explained: “Frankly, we’re breaking the cycle of poverty. That’s what it’s really all about.” The charter school pays the college tuition for the high school kids, so Raven is receiving her college degree unburdened by student loans. She already has a job lined up for after graduation as she has been hired to work at 21st Century’s elementary school as an early interventionist.
What if most (or even all!) high schools were able to give this opportunity to their students. All students can achieve beyond expectations if they’re given opportunities, guidance, encouragement, and assistance. School districts have to decide priorities and how they can have the maximum impact on our children.
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