Monday, June 10, 2019

Reynolds ECA Students Get 
Fast Start Out of the Blocks

On the field, the diamond, or the court, in the classroom or the community, Majestic Colley, Morgan Johnson, and Euniq Bennett are “scholar-athletes.” They run, jump, kick, pitch, and shoot hoops with the vigor of the pros. And, thanks to the Reynolds Early College Academy they got a fast start out of the blocks on their college education.

As “scholars”, these young women earned their Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees in Social Sciences, with a total of 60 transferrable college credits before earning their high school diplomas. As “athletes” they were nominated for the Richmond Times-Dispatch Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. Majestic and Morgan were chosen as two of ten finalists.*

Just being a standout student academically takes a tremendous amount of dedication and discipline. Standing out academically and athletically, takes a special sense of purpose and tenacity few possess. Reynolds Dual Enrollment programs – the Early College Academy, and Advance College Academy - are tailor-made to meet the drive and enthusiasm of these focused, goal-driven students. 

Majestic Colley – Reynolds ECA
Majestic was a student at George Wythe High School while earning her associates degree through Reynolds ECA program. At the end of her senior year, with her 3.9 GPA, she earned the distinction of class valedictorian.

Majestic is a member of the National Honor Society, and participated in the George Wythe Marching Band and Virginia Youth Speak Out for Safe Driving. She earned three letters in basketball, and was captain of the team in her senior year. She has two letters in volleyball and was team captain, known for her serve. Majestic will be attending Old Dominion University majoring in Biology and Sports Medicine.

Morgan Johnson – Reynolds ECA
Morgan was a student at Huguenot High School while earning her associates degree. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club, and served as an elementary school volunteer reader. She is a four-year letter winner in hoops and softball. On the diamond she played as pitcher, third base and shortstop. She also plays travel softball for the Richmond Storm.

Morgan Johnson, in her own words: ""The ECA was one of the most stressful and greatest things that ever happened to me. Trying to balance practices, tournaments and homework was the hardest part. My parents, professors and advisors made me make a schedule which essentially was the best thing I ever did. This helped me develop time management skills I will need as a College athlete next year."

"Throughout the two years I was able to create friendships and bonds with people that will last forever. This allowed me to be able to complete work with my peers and seek help if needed. I want to thank all of my professors, they pushed us and gave great advice and skills needed. They held us be accountable and never lowered their expectations because we were in high school. It may have seemed like they were hard on us but they prepared us for the next step in our lives. Not only did they push us they supported us in everything we did and made the atmosphere welcoming. Ms. T and Mrs. Hott had just as much to do with our success as anybody. They sent us scholarships, they came to check on us in school, they sent internships, helped us research schools and always highlighted our success. They were great advisors, who were available for us to talk to if ever needed. I’m glad I was able to meet such an amazing group of people. Without these people, this experience would’ve been just that much harder, thank you for teaching me life lessons, and always being there for me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. I’m forever grateful for the ECA program can’t wait to come back and share my success!"

Morgan will be attending Norfolk State, playing softball while majoring in Chemistry and Pre-Med.

Euniq Bennett – Reynolds ECA
Euniq was a student at John Marshall while earning her associates degree. She graduated third in her class with a 4.25 GPA. She was a member of the Yearbook Club and a volunteered for Partnership for the Future, a community-driven college preparation and workforce development program. Euniq earned three letters on the varsity cheer squad and played softball for two seasons.

“Being a scholar-athlete and being in the ECA Program was super hard to manage because of the dedication which was highly required for both," Euniq said. With the true humility of someone who has just accomplished a very challenging assignment, she continued, "Honestly, if I could do it... anyone could. There are no excuses for not being able to be in the top ten of your class and have late night games for your school.”

Euniq will be attending Norfolk State.

* * *

“We’re so proud of these young women for their grit and perseverance over the past two years in the Reynolds Early College Academy,” said Director of Reynolds College Academies Miles McCrimmon.  “It’s a special accomplishment to juggle the demands of being a scholar-athlete in high school or college, but to be a scholar-athlete while engaged in both levels of education at the same time is especially impressive.”

Indeed it is. And, the Reynolds Community is extremely proud to have been part of helping these three young women get a fast start on their educational future.

22 Reynolds ECA Graduates in 2019
from Ayanna Thompson, Early College Academy Career Coach

22 Richmond Public School students received their associate’s degree in social sciences in 2019 before earning their high school diplomas. 

Many of those 19 graduates are the first in their family to attend college, and certainly the first to earn a college degree before earning their high school diploma.

“We have students in seven out of eight of the RPS high schools,” Ayanna Thompson points out, “each of these students are outstanding. Many were recipients of outstanding scholarships. William [Wilkins] received over 1.8 million dollars in scholarships. He was also very active in his community and his school including leadership roles. His sport is tennis and he was a semifinalist in both singles and doubles tennis events at regional tournaments.”

"ECA is a once in a lifetime experience," said William Wilkins. "It is one of the toughest experiences I have ever had, but when I was done I have never felt more satisfied and accomplished in my life."

And get this: four out of eight of the Richmond Public School 2019 valedictorians were Reynolds ECA students. The 2019 RPS Valedictorians / ECA students are:

  • Laura Blackwell, Armstrong High School going to Virginia Tech - received a presidential scholarship.
  • Majestic Colley, George Wythe High School going to Old Dominion University – scholar-athlete. 
  • Lahjae White-Patterson, Huguenot High School going to Virginia Tech - planning to study graphic design, received a presidential scholarship.
  • William Wilkins, Franklin Military Academy going to Virginia Commonwealth University - planning to study psychology at the graduate level.
Adjectives like active, dedicated, achiever, driven, still don’t fully capture the personality of an ECA graduate. Consider that during their two years in the ECA program these students would begin their school day with classes at Reynolds in the morning, then return to their high schools for yet more classes in the afternoon. While maintaining their rigorous educational schedule, they still found time to be active in their schools and to make meaningful contributions in their communities. 

For the “scholar-athletes” - Majestic, Morgan, and Euniq - there was yet another dimension: they somehow managed to squeeze practice and competition into their schedule and still succeed. Weekends? What may have been down time for others, for all ECA students was time dedicated to studying, practice, and more studying and practicing.

Hats off – or in this case mortar boards off – to the 2019 Dual Enrollment program graduates (ECA, the 2-year program; ACA, the 4-year program). The Reynolds community applauds your impressive, and well-earned success!

*The RTD Award is open to outstanding area high school seniors nominated by their coaches. In addition to the recognition, the Award includes college scholarship dollars.