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More than 100 Collegiate Academy students graduated with their Associate of Arts degree on May 5th from Hillsborough Community College (HCC).

Collegiate Academy Students Earn AA Degree Before High School Diploma

May 15, 2017 - Student Success


More than 100 Collegiate Academy students graduated with their Associate of Arts degree on May 5th from Hillsborough Community College (HCC). This was even before they earned their high school diploma.

The Collegiate Academy, an academically competitive magnet program, is made possible through a partnership between Hillsborough County Public Schools and HCC. At the center of this program is School Board Member Susan Valdes who participated in the graduation ceremony and congratulated each graduate as they crossed the stage. Board Member Valdes helped bring this program to fruition and shared, “it is our duty as board members to help our students work towards their aspirations.”

This program enables students to earn an Associate of Arts degree from HCC and a high school diploma by the time they complete four years of high school. Students who complete the full 60 college credits available to them through this program have potential to transfer to any public Florida college or university as third-year students (juniors). 

Through the Collegiate Academy, incoming freshmen have the opportunity to form bonds and build community as they earn high school and college credit. Courses are taken on campus during the school day and students can attend the HCC campus as well. This program comes with no cost to students and families saves them approximately $6,000 in college tuition. 

For many students, this program is a sign of hope for their future. Whether it was support, motivation or financial assistance provided by the Collegiate Academy, students recognize the value in what they have received. Yamicelys Fuentes, a senior graduating with a 7.0 GPA who will attend the University of Tampa, said, “My family never had any kind of education fund or money to send me to college.  I knew from an early age that if college was to be a part of my future, I would have to find a way to do that on my own.”

With a dedicated guidance counselor for the Collegiate Academy students at each school site, the students can focus and plan their career path. Senior Alejandro Castillo, who will attend USF in the fall, is thankful for the program. “It turns out that all I needed was a sprinkle of hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to know what I am capable of,” said Castillo.

The Collegiate Academy has provided hope for the next generation of leaders and illustrated that community partnerships are key.

“Partnerships and articulation agreements are vital to the success of our students and community,” shared Board Member Valdes. “Collegiate Academy students walk away with college credit, plus a diploma.”   

Forty-four students from Armwood, 34 students from Lennard, and 33 students from Leto high schools, all comprising the first graduating class of the Collegiate Academy program, are already on the way to pursuing their dreams. Students will go on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, U.S. Naval Academy, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of South Florida and many other universities and colleges.

Congratulation to all Collegiate Academy graduates!

















Estimated Cost of an A.A. at a four-year university  $18,000.00

Estimated cost of an A.A. at HCC $  9,100.00

Estimated cost of completing an through CA ..............................$        0.00

Entrance into the Collegiate Academies is through an academically competitive application process.

Selection for The Collegiate Academy is based on the following eligibility factors: G.P.A. from 7th grade and part of 8th grade, standardized test scores from 6th and/or 7th grades, an official writing sample, and completion of Algebra I or Algebra I Honors by the end of 8th grade with a “C” or higher each semester

To remain in The Collegiate Academy, students must: 1) have college-ready test scores on the PERT (Postsecondary Education Readiness Test), the SAT, or the ACT, and 2) maintain a 3.0 unweighted high school GPA and a 2.0 HCC GPA in dual enrollment courses


Families interested in learning more about the Collegiate Academy can contact the Choice Information Line at 813-272-4692