Sophia Arvizu-Rice will graduate from OTC’s Middle College next week with much more than a certificate for her two years of hard work.
Middle College showed Sophia her path to the future.
“Without Middle College, I would have been unmotivated to go to college,” she said. “I am a lot more motivated now. I feel I’m ahead of many and know what to expect.”
Sophia will be one of 62 students graduating from Middle College on May 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Gillioz Theater in downtown Springfield. Students accepted into Middle College finish their junior and senior years of high school on the OTC Sringfield Campus. Eligible students start college early with a focus in career and technical education.
She is one in a class of 11 who are the first to complete the Middle College’s Health Professions Academy.
The HPA program was established with a $1 million grant to support students moving into the healthcare industry. Students must meet certain academic requirements and must take a group of medical classes.
Sophia, who will graduate with 32 college credits, said she wants to become a dental assistant and learned about Middle College while in public high school.
“One of my teachers said I should either go to Middle College or get a High School Equivalency certificate,” she said.
Sophia started attending Middle College last year and immediately found the surroundings to her liking.
“It really helped being on a college campus,” she said. “It’s nice being around people like I am. The environment was good.”
In addition to taking classes on the OTC Springfield Campus, she interned at a local oral surgery clinic.
While Sophia is moving on from high school to college in the fall, she is encouraging her friends struggling in high school to check out Middle College.
“One of my friends is going in the fall after I told her she should come,” Sophia said.
She said Middle College awoke her from her academic boredom.
“I got a slap in the face here, in a good way. I was treated like a college student. In high school, it was like you don’t have to try. At OTC, you get into the groove of things. You’re treated as an adult,” she said.
Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technical Community College.