Posted June 10, 2020
Recent high school graduate Sydney Contreras thought she was going to a four-year college and even had money down to hold her spot, but when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the nation, the closeness, convenience and cost of Lorain County Community College (LCCC) and its University Partnership proved to be a better fit for her.
“COVID was the tipping point in my decision at stay at LCCC,” Contreras said. Before that, “there wasn’t even a thought in my mind that I would be staying at LCCC.”
Barely 18, the Elyria resident and first-generation college graduate recently earned her associate of arts degree in May through Lorain County Early College High School (ECHS), a program where a student can earn an associate degree and a high school diploma at the same time on LCCC’s campus.
Contreras plans to complete LCCC’s nursing associate degree program and then earn a bachelor of science in nursing through LCCC’s University Partnership with Ohio University and become a midwife, she said.
Originally, Contreras planned to continue her education at another local university. “I was very sure that I would be attending,” she said. “I confirmed my application, paid my enrollment fees and even put in my housing application.”
The graduate qualified for both the Trustee Scholarship and the Diversity Scholarship at LCCC “so that also played a large part in staying at LCCC,” she said. The other college “wasn’t offering me much, whereas almost all of my schooling is getting paid for here,” she added.
“As a parent, the benefits of Sydney staying at LCCC have brought me relief financially the most,” said Sydney’s mother, Jennifer McCartney. “I believe our family will be benefiting mentally also by reducing the financial stress.”
“I am extremely thankful that within walking distance Sydney will get to continue and accomplish her dreams closer to home,” McCartney said. “I am so proud of her accomplishments and the college experience she received by getting a head start through ECHS.”
“COVID came along and I knew it would have a very large impact on that college experience that I was hoping to get,” Contreras said. “I ended up looking into LCCC’s University Partnerships” and found a new plan, she said.
Earning her bachelor’s at LCCC allows Contreras to stay on track and save money.
“Many Early College graduating seniors who had planned to go away to college in the fall, with consideration of universities delivering courses online-only, decided it would be in their best interest academically and financially to stay here at LCCC, their home,” Shane Newark, Early College High School principal. “Several students even lost deposit checks to hold their seats, but LCCC is where they feel safe and comfortable receiving their college courses from faculty they know and feel safe with.”
Contreras originally chose ECHS because she wanted to go into a four-year university with part of her degree already completed and not having to pay for an associate degree was a major plus, she said. “I also was able to develop great friendships and got a feel for how college works and how to speak to professors,” she said. “A lot of my ECHS teachers helped me a lot, especially Mr. Dan Vasi and Ms. Kaylee Scarpitti. They never stopped pushing us to be the best.”