Trinidad State News

Nine earn college certificates while still in high school

Valley Campus / May 23, 2015 / by Margaret Sanderson


Nine ambitious high school girls graduated on May 8 from Trinidad State with nail technician certificates.  These are the first nail technology students to graduate from Trinidad State before they graduate high school, under a law passed by the state legislature in 2009.  College courses taken during high school are called concurrent courses.  Dual credits are earned for both high school and college.  With most school systems in the Valley paying the tuition for concurrent classes, it’s a great way to save on higher education.  During the spring semester the Trinidad State Valley Campus had about 325 high school students taking concurrent courses.

These nine students attended nail classes at Trinidad State, plus Sargent, Del Norte and Center High Schools.  The Center nail tech students included one sophomore, two juniors, and three seniors.  Serious students who complete their high school requirements early and then take concurrent courses can rack up some serious savings and, of course, less college debt.

Several years ago Center School Superintendent, George Welsh, approached Sonya Maes about teaching cosmetology classes through Trinidad State for the high school.  She has done that the past five years. This year she taught a nail technician class for the first time.  She said the students get really excited about applying acrylic nails.  Maes has owned and operated Knock-Out Styling at the east end of Hwy 112 in Center for the last 15 years.  “I really like the program,” said Maes.  “It’s a great opportunity for the students to work toward a cosmetology license and be able to start their own businesses early.  One of the seniors, Lucila Velanzuela, is already nearly half way through the cosmetology program.  I’ve encouraged her to finish.  I’ve really enjoyed teaching these classes.  The best part is watching the students’ excitement as they learn.”  Getting an early start on their college educations were Center students Shaniya Aguilar, Roxanna Armijo, Melizza Echeverria, Nancy Salto, Jennifer Valadez and Velanzuela.

Three other young ladies, Bailey Curtis from Sargent High School, and Morgan McMaster-Neely and Alexis Ocanas from Del Norte High School also completed the nail tech program.  The instructor for the Del Norte students was Connie Medina and Curtis attended class at the Trinidad State Alamosa Campus (1011 Main Street).  “It’s fun,” said Medina.  “It’s interesting to work with young people and the different personalities.  This is the first year for the nail technician program at the high school.”  Medina operates her own cosmetology business in a space she rents from Something Different salon in Alamosa.

Gayle Pepper, Director for the Trinidad State Cosmetology program, said, “I’m excited that we now have the nail tech program set up so we can offer it in the high schools.  In fact that is the only portion of the cosmetology program that we are offering in the high schools right now.  It was very exciting to have our high school nail tech students graduate with their college certificates before they actually graduate from high school.”

High school students wishing to get involved in concurrent enrollment should see their school counselor.

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