Nyssa Koleric

Nyssa Koleric

A college graduate at 16; dual credit and its big benefits

The first taste of post-secondary life for Nyssa Koleric came when she was seven years old. Now at 16, she’s set to graduate with a health care aide certificate from NorQuest College.

A kid genius? Perhaps, but not in a Sheldon-Cooper-earn-a-PhD-at-16 kind of way. Still, her accomplishment to this point in her academic career is impressive.

“My interest in health care came to me because of my mom,” says the dual credit student who is in Grade 11 at M.E. Lazert high school but takes the Health Care Aide Dual Credit program at Edmonton’s McNally high school.

“My mom graduated from the NorQuest Health Care Aide program in 2011 and when I was there watching her walk across the stage to graduate, I thought, ‘this is what I want to do, or something similar to her at least.’”

And here she is, almost ready to graduate from college with the work-ready skills to be on the front lines of health care with still over a year to go before she even graduates high school.

Dual credit students have the unique opportunity to earn high school and college credits at the same time. At McNally, students learn in a state-of-the-art lab that mirrors any hospital room setting. NorQuest instructors lead the class. The McNally lab features eight beds and all the amenities and infrastructure of a hospital room. The students spend all day for an entire semester emerged in a hands-on, practical learning environment.

“I am having a lot of fun in the program,” says Koleric. “Most of the kids in the class I am friends with so being here and being able to be around people I am comfortable with is really nice. And since I only did four (high school) courses last semester, having the extra 25 credits (from dual credit) for high school is going to help me a lot. As for a college environment, this is great because I have a heads start on what it’s like over everyone else.”

Koleric’s plans are to enter the workforce as soon as she graduates from the program. Health care aides work in settings such as hospitals, long term care homes, and retirement homes, or as private caregivers.

“Then maybe after Grade 12 I will upgrade a little more, take a little break from working after that and apply to Grant MacEwan or the University of Alberta to go into forensic pathology.”

Not before she puts on a NorQuest cap and gown, however. One of the greatest thrills for dual credit students is actually being a part of the college’s annual convocation ceremony. Dual credit students will receive their certificates on Day 1 of Convocation 2019 (May 28) at the Winspear Centre.

“I am kind of nervous about that because I am going to be around all these adults and here I am in high school walking across the stage.”