From the time he was in seventh grade, Devin Wrice knew he wanted to enroll Lorain County Early College High School.

Wrice, 18, got his chance and is now preparing to graduate with his high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree from Lorain County Community College.

“From the first time I heard about Early College, I made up my mind that I would go,” he said. “The benefits of this program are amazing.”

Lorain County Early College High School is a unique opportunity available to Lorain County students entering ninth grade who meet certain criteria. All Early College classes are taught tuition-free on the LCCC campus and are designed to allow the student to earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time.

Though adjusting to the program was initially challenging, Wrice, who lives in Lorain, now credits the Early College High School for helping him mature quickly.

“It was hard at first because all my friends were still at Lorain High and I wasn’t,” he said. “Early College helped me mature faster than I would have otherwise because we are taught to focus on what is best for our future.”

As he heads off to Kent State University in the fall to study science, Wrice has an advantage over many of the other income students at the university.

“I’m going into this knowing what’s expected of me in a college classroom,” he said. “Where other students might be nervous about starting college, I’ve already got two years under my belt.”

Wrice will attend Kent State University and plans to earn a Bachelor of Biology degree and continue on to study medicine with the goal of becoming a general practitioner.