When Destiny King talks about her first year at the Early College High School at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware, she mentions the pact she made with three fellow students in their first class on the college campus.
“It was trigonometry,” King said on a recent call. “We said, ‘if anyone asks us, we are 18 years old’ – but we were 14. We looked like children.”
But King and her classmates weren’t treated like children – the expectations for all students in the early college is that they will work hard, take advantage of the resources that are available to them and graduate high school with a diploma and 60 hours of college credit. And King was committed.
“When I was little, my mom talked to me about how she started taking college classes at 16, and I wanted to do that,” King said. “My parents taught me from a young age that college is very important and very expensive. So when I was walking in the mall and saw a sign that I could earn up to 60 free college credits, I jumped at the opportunity.”
That opportunity has included networking, not only with her college peers, but with teachers and professionals. She’s had an internship, and has appreciated that while her classes are challenging, her professors support her – they recognize her effort, and they’re willing to work with her to see her succeed. King will be graduating this spring, and has plans to continue on at Delaware State University and finish her Bachelor’s degree in Biology before continuing on to med school.
“My ambition has served me well, and it’s served my classmates well, too,” King said. She is excited and proud, and when asked how her parents feel about the fact that she’ll graduate with 60 hours of college credit, she asked me to hold on a moment while she posed the question to her mom and dad.
When she returned to the line, her tone was amused.
“He said ‘that’s good’ and my mom said, ‘that’s what’s expected of you.’ I think she’s just joking.”
A week after I spoke with Destiny, I received a call from her mother who had a story to tell me about Destiny.
“She saw a commercial for college when she was nine or 10 years old, and asked me if her father and I were saving, because she planned on going to college for 11 or 12 years,” Destiny’s mother explains with a laugh. The family began researching opportunities to alleviate the financial burden and give Destiny a head start – to support her in pursuing her dreams.
Because for King and her family, and many of her peers, it’s about determination as much as it is about high expectations. That’s the power of early college.