Article Image Alt Text

15 CCHS students graduate Central Texas College

Special to the Leader-Press


When Central Texas College holds its Spring 2024 Commencement on Friday, May 10, there will be Bulldawgs among the pack.

Friday, 15 students at Copperas Cove High School are scheduled to graduate with either their associate degrees or a career certification.

Of those 15 students, 13 have earned their associate with plans to continue to a four-year university.

Ian MacDonald has not only don’t just that, but did so while graduating from CCHS a year early.

“It’s definitely going to put me ahead of my other classmates, because I was originally projected to graduate in 2025, but now I’m graduating with the senior class in 2024,” MacDonald said. “So, it’s going to help me in college, because when I go to my college that I’m going to now, I’m not going to be a freshman. I’m going to be a sophomore, because I’m going to graduate from the other college early, as well.”

MacDonald said he plans to attend Earlham College in Indiana after graduating from Copperas Cove at the end of May.

Matthew Northrop has also earned his associate degree from CTC.

“If you’re ever given an opportunity, you should take it,” Northrop said. “You know, if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. Especially because once you’re out of high school, there’s less and less opportunities, there’s less and less people willing to be forgiving to you, so you’ve got to take every step you can.”

Northrop plans to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor after high school to study history and pre-law.

Niya Thompson will be awarded her associate degree Friday.

“It’s saving time, it’s saving money for my parents when I go to my actual university,” Thompson said. She later continued, “I want to become an attorney, so I already have a long line of schooling ahead of me, because I will be having to attend law school.”

Thompson said she plans to attend Sam Houston State University after graduating from Cove.

Riley Yunitis is also receiving her associate degree, just two weeks before graduating from CCHS.

“I’m one of the first in my family to really ever take college courses that aren’t at a trade school,” Yunitis said. “So, getting my associate’s, along with my diploma, is so rewarding.”

Yunitis plans to attend Blinn College in College Station to obtain another few credits before heading to Texas A&M University to study nutrition.

Ella Crawley will also take another step toward her four-year degree Friday.

“It’s allowed me to open up a lot of options for college,” Crawley said. “Like, now, I’m considering double-majoring, because I’ve already taken a lot of the beginner classes.”

Crawley plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station and pursue an engineering degree.

Alexis-Skye Smith earned her associate degree, as well.

“It’s going to give me a head start on what I want to do,” Smith said. “I have an idea that I want to go and achieve a business degree, so I’ll go and get my bachelor’s, which will probably only take two years in college, instead of four.”

Smith said she plans to attend Mississippi Valley State University and play soccer.

Iain Forde earned three associate degrees through his coursework.

“My main purpose was speeding things up,” Forde said. “But, it also taught crucial things about how college courses will work….I was in classes and being put at the same level as adults who were also going in those classes and was treated just the same as them.”

Forde plans to complete his PSA program at Texas A&M University-San Antonio before transferring to the College Station campus to earn his statistics degree.

Sa’Mya Thomas also earned her associate degree and will walk the stage Friday night.

“It’s going to help me afford college,” Thomas said. “Then, I want to go to medical school. So, taking those two years off of my bachelor’s is going to really help me cut down on the cost as I continue on my education pathway.”

Thomas plans to attend Baylor University after graduation and earn a psychology degree on a pre-medicine track.

Luke Olson has also earned his associate degree from CTC.

“After high school, this is a really good launching-off point for where I’m aiming to be in 7, 8 years,” Olson said. “I want to go in to civil law, fight for the people who don’t have the voice to fight…This launching-off point, taking two years off my degree, means I can become a lawyer much younger.”

Olson plans to attend Texas A&M University and earn a political science degree.

Peyton Brewster earned her associate degree and will walk the stage with the CTC graduates Friday.

“It’s helped me learn how to study for me,” Brewster said. “Time management, too, so I’ll be more successful in college.”

Christina Gaines earned her associate degree and will take her next steps, as well.

“I will be going to college as a junior, which is just another foot in the door,” Gaines said. “It allows me to get in to the workforce a lot quicker than a lot of peers my age.”

Gaines plans to attend Texas A&M University-Central Texas and double-major in marketing and management.

Brianna Miles also earned her associate degree through the early college program at CTC.

“At CTC, you work on your basics, math and reading, biology, so now I’ll be able to do what I want to work on,” Miles said. “CTC really gave me that push so that, at university, I’ll be able to have fun and do what I want to work on for these next upcoming years.”

Miles plans to attend Texas Southern University, where she has signed to play soccer.

The final student earning their associate degree in this semester’s cohort is Asia Osborn.

“I feel so relieved to know that all of my hard work has paid off,” Osborn said. “It is definitely rewarding, especially as I am a first-generation college student. I am so grateful that my parents and close family have been so supportive throughout this long process. I could not have done it without them and late-night coffee runs.”

Osborn plans to attend Texas A&M University to earn a bachelor's degree in mathematics before joining the Air Force as a commissioned officer.

There are also two students earning certifications.

Cody Fergie completed his certification in Farm & Ranch Welding through CTC.

“It will allow me to be able to weld on farms and ranches, allow me to expand my job applications,” Fergie said. “To be able to get the education so early on is very, very helpful.”

Fergie plans to begin his search for positions using her certificate after graduating from CCHS at the end of May.

Thomas Shotwell also earned his HVAC certification through the program.

“It feels really good,” Shotwell said. “I wasn’t really supposed to get it this year, but I worked my butt off to get it.”

Shotwell said he plans to begin looking for HVAC technician jobs after graduation this month.

This school years, this brings the total number of CCHS students to finish their associate’s degrees at Central Texas College to 15, with two completing theirs in the fall semester. They join five seniors who did so in the 2022-23 school year.

There were also five students who earned certifications through CTC, total, this year.

The CCISD Early College program, in partnership with Central Texas College, is one of four dual credit or early college programs available to students at Copperas Cove High School. In addition to a separate dual credit program through CTC, the district has also partnered with the OnRamps program through the University of Texas at Austin and, new this year, the dual credit program at McMurry University in Abilene.

Participation numbers in the program have increased, as well.

In the fall of 2022, 402 students were enrolled in dual credit at CTC, a number that has stayed relatively steady. The number of early college students in the CCISD & CTC partnership has increased from 45 last year to 77 this year.

There have been a total 488 enrollments in UT OnRamps in the past two years.

In the first year of the district’s partnership with McMurry, 41 students enrolled in 55 courses in the fall semester, with 22 students accounting 32 enrollments this semester.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207