Two SHS Grads Earn Associate Degrees While In High School
By Todd Kleiboer
Amid the sea of maroon and white caps at the 2022 Sherman High School graduation, two navy blue caps stood out.
At the podium, SHS Principal Jenifer Politi gestured for them to stand.
“These graduates are in our Bearcat Collegiate program, and they have already earned their associate degree from Grayson College,” Politi said as the packed Bearcat Stadium applauded. “What an accomplishment, and we are very proud of you.”
The Grayson College blue caps belonged to Daniela Vera (first photo) and Reagan Kingsbury (second photo), who are both part of the SHS Class of 2022 and the Grayson College Class of 2022.
In Vera’s case, she was scrolling through TikTok videos the summer before her junior year and landed on one that encouraged high school students to take as many dual credit classes as possible. With that in mind, she emailed her counselor and signed up for three, including English I.
“English class was never my strong suit, and I was scared of going into college English so early,” Vera said. “But my professor was super kind and very understanding that we were all high school students. She took the time and the effort to go slow and made sure we understood everything.”
Along the path to an associate degree, Vera had the support of her sisters, who were enrolled in Grayson at the same time. Whenever she was confused, she would always ask her sisters first for help, and when Vera walked the stage at Grayson, her sisters were right there to guide her as fellow graduates themselves.
“It was a lot less nerve-wracking when going into it with my sisters,” Vera said. “I didn’t know what to do when I got there, so having my sisters there was very comforting.”
Now with her core classes completed, Vera is headed to Stephen F. Austin University to major in biology and minor in psychology, her goal to become a pediatrician. She encouraged anyone thinking about dual credit enrollment to jump in as early as possible.
“Some people think you have to be incredibly smart to get into this, and personally I don’t think I was the smartest in my class, but I still got to do this,” Vera said. “This opportunity is welcome to everyone who has the ambition and wants to do it.”
Kingsbury joined the Bearcat Collegiate his sophomore year after hearing about it from his mother. It “sounded perfect,” he said, and he wanted to do everything he could to set himself up for future success.
“Now I’m in a position to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in only three years,” Kingsbury said. “If I was doing an arts degree, it would be two, but since I’m earning a science degree, it’s three.”
Aiming to become a genetic engineer, Kingsbury changed his degree to an Associate of Science with the help of SHS Lead Counselor MaryAnn Hill. While it helped him secure a better college trajectory, the change also meant he had to take a mini-semester of British Literature.
“We had to read a book every week and write an essay every week,” Kingsbury said, confiding that writing isn’t a strong suit of his. “That was the ultimate test.”
However, the more challenging science classes were welcome, like Chemistry II. While his high school classes prepared him well for Chemistry I, the higher-level college class was all new material.
“By the end we were talking about nuclear fission. It moved fast,” Kingsbury said. “I was more eager to learn it because I have to apply it later in life, but it was still a lot of complicated information.”
Now enrolled at University of Texas at Dallas for the upcoming fall semester, Kingsbury thanked Hill and former Dual Credit coordinator Kristy Dozier for their help, especially as his high school career wrapped up. He also thanked his parents who showed steadfast support throughout the journey.
“It’s a lot of work,” Kingsbury said. “But in my mind, it was very much worth it because you get a head start on every other person in your class.”