High school sophomores in the Southwest Valley worried about going to college because of tight finances and other challenges are encouraged to apply for ACE, Estrella Mountain Community College’s Achieving a College Education program.
If accepted, students can earn up to 24 college credits by the time they graduate from high school, all paid for by a scholarship.
“That’s an entire year of college under your belt for free,” officials from the Avondale campus said.
Deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 19. Students should visit estrellamountain.edu/students/ace to submit an application.
To be eligible a student should have taken at least six high school credits at the time of application submission, and meet two or more of the following criteria:
• First generation to attend college;
• Single parent home;
• Underrepresented group;
• Economic hardship; and
• Environmental factors (Work 10 to 30 hours, foster care, live in temporary housing, teen parent)
ACE is a nationally recognized program that targets students who think going to college and earning a degree would be too hard or not an option at all. Students in the program take college classes with other ACE students over the summer and on Saturdays during the fall and spring semesters of their junior and senior years.
Jennifer Armour, student services analyst with the ACE and Hoop of Learning programs, said the benefit of taking classes with other ACE students is that everyone shares an experience they may not share with their other friends.
“They’re with students who understand the sacrifice they are making to put their future first and work hard in doing something new,” she said.
Alejandra Medina Garcia, an EMCC student employee and former ACE student at Glendale Community College, said one of her fondest memories of her time in the ACE program was getting to meet so many other high school students like herself.
“I met some awesome people in the program, all high school students like me from different districts,” she said.
ACE students are surrounded by a support system of staff.
“We care about their education and experience,” Ms. Armour said of program participants. “We love seeing our students grow over the two years and hear how they are doing after they’ve graduated from high school.”
Ms. Medina Garcia applied to the ACE program because her parents, who immigrated to the U.S. when she was about 3 years old, have always instilled in her the importance of education.
“The ACE program helped prepare me for the rest of my college experience. I had a better understanding of what was expected of me from my teachers, classes, and for myself,” she said. “I also thought it would be great to get a head start in college. I had some great experiences with my professors. They were very helpful. I learned a lot.”
Participating in the program also helped Ms. Medina Garcia get another scholarship to finish her associates degree.
“It looked really good on the application,” she said.
ACE students also participate in an orientation and workshops on financial aid, money management, study skills, resume writing, career opportunities and more.
“Our ACE team is passionate because we genuinely care about students,” Ms. Armour said. “We want our students to look back on their time in the program with joy and to leave ACE feeling confident in themselves and their abilities for life and college.”
Ms. Armour said her favorite part about being involved in the ACE program is helping students, especially when they are starting their path to college and life.
“I love seeing them light up when they talk about their achievements and goals and dreams or when they learn something new,” she said. “I love knowing that even on the smallest level, I helped them. Whether it is with a smile or simple advice, I helped a student keep going and that keeps me going as well.”