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College, Career and Life Ready Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy Launches College Careers from Day one

Like most high school students across Milwaukee, virtual learning during the Pandemic presented both uncertainty and opportunities for Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy 11th-grader Sondra Johnson.

Despite the new challenges she’s faced during the transition to virtual learning, Sondra Johnson hasn’t let it slow down her path to college.

A self-directed learner, she challenged herself through the high school’s three-year-old Early College Program that allows students to earn college credit. Johnson is just one of several scholars successfully completing college courses through dual-enrollment alongside their regular school work.

“For our students, the idea of ‘to and through college’ is instilled on day one,” Principal Judith Parker explains. “Our scholars are keenly aware of all of the post-secondary opportunities available to them and have aspirations for college acceptance, college persistence, and college graduation.”

“It shows me that I am capable of doing college-level work,” says Johnson. “I like it because now I know that I can take on even more challenges. It allows me to earn college credit early, and I am learning about things that really interest me.”

Sondra earned the first college credits of her academic career in Informational Technology through the school’s partnership with Gateway Technical College in January. She is currently exploring Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Sondra also serves as a member of the high school’s innovative Technology Ambassador program, a team of scholars who provide level 1 tech support to over 350 students and staff. Last summer, she earned an internship at the school, supporting the school’s Covid technology initiatives that enabled every scholar to begin the school year with a Chromebook, equitable access to the Internet, and other learning technology.

Johnson says the Technology Ambassador program inspired her, “After I became a Technology Ambassador, I discovered that I really wanted to learn even more about technology, I am really enjoying these college courses.”

“Whether it be by dual enrollment opportunities, student organizations, or a combination, few experiences could be more invaluable. Experiences like these are why Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy scholars have achieved a 100% college acceptance rate eight years in a row,” says Parker

The school’s dual enrollment scholars are making huge gains in both the academic and soft skills necessary for college persistence, says Courtney Steggall, the school’s Dual Enrollment Coordinator. Steggall believes this helps make students more prepared to enter college full-time after graduation from high school.

"Dual Enrollment exemplifies our mission of sending scholars to and through college,” adds Steggall. “It's an amazing experience being able to work with scholars who are beginning to live out our mission while still in high school.”

Sondra Johnson persistence is inspiring. Her path through the dual enrollment program demonstrates that despite the pandemic and the difficulties it has presented, scholars can choose to continue their educational journey and even thrive.

Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy is an inner-city, non-profit, public, charter school with serving over 300, mostly African American, 9th to 12th-grade scholars and their families. For eight consecutive years 100% of the school’s scholars have earned college acceptances and our class of 2020 earned over $3.5 million in scholarships.

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Photos by HFCA Technology Ambassadors