It’s music to a parent’s ears when she finds out that her daughter has just saved $30,000 in potential college tuition costs. At the same time that fact provides complete satisfaction for the student whose mouth gets to utter those words. That’s how it happened for Breeahna Britt, a 2007 graduate of the CEC Middle College of Denver, and her mother Lynelle, when Bree made one of her first calls home from college.
“Mom, guess what? I’m not a freshman!” Breeahna excitedly told her Mom when she called home from Clark Atlanta University within a week from the time her parents had taken her on the cross-country trek to drop her off at school.
Lynell was confused, but listened on as Bree told her that all of the college credits she had earned during her high school semesters at the CEC Middle College had transferred and now, in her first week of school, allowed the new college student to debut as a sophomore. And with a combination of opportunity and desire, Bree could easily have finished college in three years, saving her family upwards of $30,000 in tuition. It was an amazing testament to a dedicated teenager and an academic program that allows students to earn college credits while still in high school.
In the end, finishing college in three years wasn’t how the story played out for Breeanha, but that was by choice. Instead, Bree decided to take full advantage of a four year college stay—but with the pressure off to cram in a full load of classes each semester, Breeahna was able to broaden her horizons by taking classes she ordinarily wouldn’t have had time for, take lighter class loads to enjoy the social and extra curricular aspects of school, travel abroad to study in Barcelona and take advantage of not one, but several internships. A win-win-win situation in her opinion.
“I could have graduated a year early, but my Mom was like, ‘you shouldn’t rush, you should take it slow and enjoy it.’ I was glad I did that and was able to study abroad and just do what I really wanted to do. Now I miss college and I am so glad I did it in four years.” But she will admit, it was nice to have the comfort of a year’s worth of credit.
Breeahna was also one of the lucky ones, having gone to college with her choices of majors pared down due to the career classes she had taken at CEC. She had advance knowledge in the areas of teaching careers and business, two classes she enjoyed at CEC, so she knew she wanted to do something along those lines. Originally thinking education would win out, she ended up deciding to go the business route and take advantage of a broad course of study that would give her additional possibilities.
But this dedicated student didn’t stop with just coursework. She completed a handful of internships, working for companies and organizations such as; the Martin Luther King Center of non-violent social change, the T. Howard foundation, the Great American Country TV station in Nashville, the A&E channel in New York and was a production assistant with the Black Entertainment Television (BET)—a very impressive resume for a recent college grad, who now works for Coca-Cola. “I feel like CEC helped prepare me for those opportunities and a big part of that was doing an Executive Internship,” she said. “Through CEC, I did an internship at a law firm and it made me realize that I did not want to do law, but opened my eyes to other career areas.”
Attending CEC made a true difference for Breeahna in her post-secondary education. “If I didn’t go to CEC, I don’t think I would have taken the same path that I have. If’ I’d have gone to my home high school, I probably wouldn’t have been as directed. I would have been more concerned with the social aspects—the boys, the this and that. But CEC was more about the academics, the vocational and trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” said Breeahna.
Her mom stands by that sentiment whole-heartedly. As a former educator herself, Lynell knows the importance of addressing different learning styles in the classroom and she feels that CEC does an impressive job of teaching students in ways that will prepare them for the real world. Plus, it didn’t hurt that it gave her daughter such a jump on her college career. “When she called and told us she had those credits, we thought for sure she was kidding. But when saw she did, we were jumping up and down we were so excited. That really was a good feeling.” And once Lynell gets started talking about CEC it’s hard for her to stop. “I’m an advocate for this school. I love it. It’s phenomenal.”