TAMPA, Fla. — Most students graduate high school first, then move on to college, but not those in the Hillsborough County Dual Enrollment Program.
These high school students aren’t wasting any time pursuing their dreams.
On any given day Jailen Garcia and Zoe Dieudonne could be a student in high school, a student in college or a teacher in elementary school.
“Third grade I really loved my teachers so ever since then I told my mom I want to be a teacher,” said Garcia.
However, Garcia and Dieudonne weren’t about to wait for a college internship to take their spot at the head of a classroom, so they joined the Dual Enrollment Program.
“I just really wanted to get the ball moving, get my experience already. If I had the chance to start now, I was going to start now,” said Garcia.
Not only are they completing their regular high school classes, as well as classes at Hillsborough Community College, but they’re also going into schools like Broward Elementary to get hands-on teaching experience.
“You really want to solidify what you want to do, I feel like I’m really passionate about teaching and learning, but being able to be in this environment as a teacher and see what really goes into it,” said Dieudonne.
“I think it’s super fun, and I’m here the max hours, 25 hours a week, so I’m here like four times a week all day so I’m basically like a teacher,” said Garcia. “I love it so much, I love to build relationships with the students but also with the teachers who work here.”
Garcia and Dieudonne will be receiving HCC Associates of Arts Degrees and High School Diplomas all in the same month. Then it’s on to USF.
Their mentors couldn’t be more proud.
“For these young ladies to take so much of their time, they could be doing anything, but they chose to come here, hang out, learn how to be a teacher already,” said Broward teacher Sabrina Bivins.
“It’s helpful to know and really reassuring to know that I’m going into something that I really love,” said Dieudonne.
These future teachers say they can’t wait to bring their knowledge and experience full circle, returning to Hillsborough County to teach someday.
“I’ll probably see these kids when they graduate,” said Garcia.