TYLER (KYTX)-53 incoming freshman at Chapel Hill High School will be trading the smaller, high school desks for bigger college auditoriums with Tyler Junior College as part of the new collegiate program at the school.
Micaela Miles is already back at school for volleyball practice but says what's really on her mind is the new adventure she's about to begin.
"I've always wanted to be a pediatrician and I knew how long it was going to take and I thought about how this would cut off 2 years and how much it would save me in money and my mom and I thought it would be a really good idea," Miles said.
Students like Miles will take college classes through TJC while in high school. If they continue with the program all four years, they can earn an associates degree at the same time they receive their high school diplomas, all for free.
"I'm most excited about actually going on to the TJC campus with all the professors and everything and being in that environment and I think it'll be good because it'll make me more mature," Miles said.
TJC is waiving tuition costs for students in the program and Chapel Hill ISD is paying for textbooks. Students will take classes for the first 2 years at Chapel Hill before going on to TJC's campus in their junior year. Program director Karen Bender is thrilled Chapel Hill was approved for this program.
"We knew we wanted to strengthen their desire to better their lives once they get out of high school and early college as the perfect vehicle to do that, when the research was done its very successful," Bender said.
Dr. Juan Mejia with TJC has seen this exact program implemented at other schools across the country and is excited it has made its way to East Texas.
"These are great days for East Texas and especially for the communities and students of Chapel Hill Independent School District," Mejia said.
Miles says she is very thankful to have been accepted to this program.
"Keep your head on the right path because you're not going to get this chance again anywhere else," Miles said.
The school has to get the certification for this program renewed yearly by the Texas Education Agency but administrators hope to offer the program for a long time.