This spring, Alan Quintana won’t just be earning his high school diploma – he’s also getting his associate degree.

Knowing he wanted to continue his education after high school, Alan started taking college-level classes his junior year at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy through the City Colleges of Chicago Early College program. With an interest in web design, he focused on classes that would earn him his associate degree in that discipline – for free – by the time he graduated from high school.

By taking course in web design, he actually discovered that he doesn’t want to pursue a career in web development – something he thinks is just as important as discovering what he does want to do in the future.

“I enjoyed the classes, but I realized that isn’t what I want to do. I’m glad I found that out now, instead of spending money on a bachelor’s degree and finding out later,” he said.

He discovered an interest in engineering, and is heading to UIC in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Not only will he start at UIC as a junior, but he’s also earned a full-scholarship, meaning his entire college career will not cost him anything.

Alan has also landed an internship at IBM this summer, and is looking forward to learning additional skills that he will take with him to UIC and beyond.

“I’m really glad I took all these college courses in high school. I was busy, but feels great to be ahead of the game,” said Alan.

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