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Early college aides in honor’s successes

With her eye on a career in nursing, Taylor Tolman is already partway there with her college education – and she’s just graduating from high school.

Tolman is the valedictorian for Swallows Charter Academy’s 2014 class.

The school offers “early college,” which means students take college classes (Pueblo Community College and Colorado State University-Pueblo) and receive a concurrent degree, earning their high school diploma alongside college credits.

Not only did Tolman receive her high school diploma last week during the school’s graduation ceremony, but she’s already got three Associate Degrees to her name – an Associate of Science degree, Associate of Arts degree and Associate of General Study degree.

“I’m really happy about the Associate of Science because that’s what I really wanted,” Tolman said.

“This year I was able to really focus on some science classes because I want to go into nursing.”

Tolman said she was amazed and proud to be named valedictorian, especially because she didn’t attend Swallows for the first two years of high school.

She knows the competition for the top spot in the class is tough with so many students taking college courses.

“I have worked very hard to earn my grades and make my goals. So it means a lot to me,” she said.

Tolman attended SCA during middle school, but moved to Pueblo West High School her freshman and sophomore year.

She took accelerated classes and played volleyball – a passion – but after her second year, she decided that traditional high school “wasn’t really for me.

“So I transferred back to Swallows and started going to PCC taking college courses full time,” she said.

“I was able to really chase my dreams. This experience has been awesome for me and I’ve grown a lot.”

The change was not without drawbacks.

Tolman said she missed playing volleyball, and also worried a little about missing out on “typical” high school experiences like prom and football games.

But overall, she’s extremely glad she made the move.

“I was hesitant and in the high school zone,” Tolman said.

Speaking of her parents, Barb and Brannon, she said,

“And my parents really encouraged me. I’m really glad they did.”

In all, Tolman earned 72 credits at PCC during her two years (60 are required for an Associates degree), and all of them were paid for through the SCA program.

Tolman’s only expenses were books, making two years of college inexpensive.

She’s been accepted into eight different colleges, but acceptance into the nursing program at each is a separate step, so she’s waiting to hear where she’ll be accepted there, and then choose a school.

Her top two picks are University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Colorado University-Denver.

For some of the programs (such as Colorado

State University), she may not know if she’s accepted into the nursing program until July, so the decision on where she’ll continue her schooling won’t come for a bit.

Tolman’s hope is to earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing by spring of 2017.

She’d like to continue on and get a Master’s degree as well, but hasn’t narrowed down what field of nursing, in particular, she’d like to concentrate on.

“I think it stemmed from my grandparents.

“From the time I was really young, my grandpa was really sick with kidney failure, so all my life I was with him and he was in the hospital or had to go through dialysis,” Tolman said.

“I saw that and wanted to make an impression on someone’s life like the nurses did in his life.”

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