High School student Melanie Sola earns Associate’s Degree at BHCC

East Boston resident and Madison Park Technical Vocational High School student Melanie Sola has pulled off an achievement that most high school students would never try.
In May Sola, 17, will graduate from Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) with an Associate’s Degree before she receives her high school diploma from Madison Park. Sola will also earn her Nail Technician license because she’s in the Madison Park cosmetology program.
Sola is in the “early college” program at Madison Park, called RoxMAPP or “Roxbury Massachusetts Advanced Post-Secondary Pathways.” RoxMAPP has more than 80 students this semester, according to Taneka R. DeGrace, who directs the program.
The program is open to all Madison Park students. No minimum GPA is required “to ensure that prior performance is not a barrier to future success,” according to the program’s webpage. However, DeGrace says the students do have to be in “good standing”: good attendance, passing grades, and no discipline issues. They also need teacher recommendations.
“The summer after my freshman year, I joined Upward Bound, a college prep summer program,” Sola told Schoolyard News during an interview of her accomplishments. “For six weeks, we stayed on a campus and took the classes we were supposed to take the year following. At the end, they asked us to reflect back on our summer. I told the director I had a great time socially, but I just didn’t feel academically challenged. I felt like I could have taken more rigorous courses. The director’s husband happens to be on staff here at Madison and she told him about me. His name is Mr. [Terrance] Johnson. He connected me to Ms. DeGrace who runs Early College. It’s been a ride ever since.”
Sola has already been accepted to UMass Lowell as a junior and invited into the Honors College, where she’ll major in engineering. Then she plans to take advantage of UMass Lowell’s “Plus 1” program, which will get her a Master’s Degree with one more year of study after her Bachelor’s.
As for what it was like going to school at Bunker Hill while juggling high school Sola told Schoolyard News,
“I have classes there two days a week, Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. On those days, I’m at Madison Park at 7:30 a.m. and I leave at 9:00 a.m. to get to Bunker Hill for a 10:00 a.m. class, and stay there until about 4:00. At 5:00, I have to be home to babysit my siblings. On days that I don’t go to Bunker Hill, I stay at Madison and do my homework.”

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