Isabel Farina is looking forward to earning her Associate of Arts degree on Saturday, May 5. She is even more anxious to get started on her next goal: earning a nursing degree.

The 18-year-old Avon woman is one of 56 Lorain County Early College High School students who will earn their high school diploma and an associate’s degree this year.

“I have the advantage going into the next step of my education,” Farina said. “With the help of Early College, I know what to expect from college classes and I have a clear path for myself.”

Early College High School is an opportunity for students entering the ninth grade to participate in a combined high school and college experience with the goal of earning a high school diploma and a college associate’s degree at the same time.

Farina was in the eighth grade when she received a letter in the mail about Early College High School. She eagerly applied and was accepted.

“This has been a very fulfilling and challenging experience,” she said. “I’ve gained a lot of insight and saved so much money.”

Attending high school on a college campus also helped Farina learn to take charge of her education.

“This program taught me not to procrastinate. When you’re taking college classes, you have to be in classes and paying attention to do well. If you don’t, it will catch up with you,” she said.

Farina will continue being in LCCC classrooms, as she begins coursework for an Associate of Nursing degree. She plans to continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from The University of Akron through LCCC’s University Partnership.

“Thanks to Early College, I have a plan for my future and I know how to put it into action,” she said.