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Utica CSD Student Second to Earn Degree through OHM BOCES’ P-TECH Program

Tea Parker of Utica recently joined a small but fast-growing group of local students who have earned both their high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time through the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES’ Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program.


Seventeen-year-old Parker is only the second student to complete the program which provides selected students from the OHM BOCES’ component school districts with individualized opportunities to simultaneously earn their New York State Regents High School Diploma and an associate degree from Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC), at no cost to the student. Parker’s accelerated education track coupled with her personal hard work and determination allowed her to complete 22 high school credits and 64 college credits over the course of just four years -- an impressive and rare academic achievement for someone who hasn’t even turned 18 yet.


As one of only 38 P-TECH programs throughout New York State, P-TECH OHM offers students an innovative, hands-on and rigorous high school and college curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) while also teaching workplace skills including leadership, communication and problem-solving. Students in the program participate in workplace projects, professional mentoring, job shadowing and internships with more than 30 local business and industry partners.


In addition to completing a rigorous academic pathway and earning her AAS in electrical engineering technology, Parker has also been an active participant in the Young Scholars Program, completed paid internships at Utica College and Project Fibonacci, and worked at both Bella Cucina and the Treehouse Reading and Arts Center.


Parker plans to continue her education at MVCC where she will pursue a degree in general studies and take over the leadership role in the school’s I Am That Girl club, a group that provides a space where women can come together to express who they are and work to build tangible community, inspire genuine conversation, encourage self-confidence and create healthy media. She’ll also be building on the leadership skills she learned in P-TECH OHM by taking part in MVCC’s Student Leadership Academy and the Young Scholars Graduate Leadership Program. Parker plans to one day become a novelist and hopes to make a positive impact through her work.


“I’m aiming to broaden my knowledge and skillset by tailoring my degree toward my many interests,” said Parker. “As I move forward in life, I’m going to continue to take advantage of the many opportunities provided to me and strive for my goals.”


P-TECH OHM’s first graduate, William Grant of Westmoreland, earned his degree from MVCC in May, prior to receiving his Regents Diploma with Honors in June. Additional students from the program’s first cohort will take just one additional year after graduating high school to earn their associate degrees and the remaining students will graduate from MVCC in May 2021. There are currently 85 students in grades 9-12 enrolled in the program, including 12 underclassmen who will also have the opportunity to finish the program in just four years.


The Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES serves the following school districts: Brookfield, Clinton, Holland Patent, New Hartford, New York Mills, Oriskany, Remsen, Sauquoit Valley, Utica, Waterville, Westmoreland and Whitesboro.