ELLSWORTH — Amber-Rae Pesek graduated from Ellsworth High School June 10, but by that point, she’d already celebrated her college graduation. Pesek is the first student ever to complete the necessary credits to earn an associate degree from the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) while simultaneously completing her high school career. Pesek marched in the May 14 UMA commencement ceremony and will be officially awarded her degree in liberal studies this summer.
Pesek earned 74 college credits as a high school student in the UMA Early College Program and as a Bridge Academy of Maine student through Hancock County Technical Center. Credits were accumulated across the University of Maine System campuses with the majority of her credits earned through UMA. She also transferred credits for her UMA degree requirements from Eastern Maine Community College.
Christine Knight, UMA’s director of early college said, “[Amber-] Rae is one of the most extraordinarily driven students I have ever had the pleasure of working with in this program. She put in countless hours in the coursework itself, while also being actively involved in the Bridge Academy of Maine Program as well as student life at Ellsworth High School.”
Sarah White, Ellsworth High School counselor, said Pesek took full advantage of Early College opportunities. “She did this on top of balancing a regular high school course load, as well as co-curricular activities and athletics. Her diligence and perseverance paid off in spades and we are so proud of her! We are so excited to see what her future holds!”
Hancock County Technical Center Student Services Coordinator Hope High and Director Amy Boles also recognized Pesek’s efforts. “As a student in our Biomedical Sciences program and a member of our Bridge Academy, Amber-Rae has shown immense leadership and taken advantage of every opportunity she has been given. We are so proud of her efforts in earning the necessary credits for her associate’s degree from the University of Maine at Augusta while also taking a full academic course load and being an active high school citizen.”
At the University of Maine System (UMS), Early College (or dual enrollment) refers to all programs in which high school students enroll in college courses. Students earn both college and high school credit when they successfully complete the course. High school students who enroll in early college courses are more likely to enroll in college, have higher grades, and have a better chance of earning a college degree, according to the Maine Department of Education. Courses are free (or at significantly reduced costs) to high school students.
For information about UMA’s Early College Program, visit https://uma.edu/earlycollege.