Student Earns AA Before Her HS Diploma

A Double Dose of Ambition: Student Earns AA Before Her HS Diploma
Posted on 06/05/2019
Sonia Rivera

Sonia Rivera, a student at Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts, got a head start on her college education, completing her associate degree with distinction in the most rigorous track in the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College.

Rivera was a dual enrollment student taking classes at Palm Beach State College while still in high school at Dreyfoos. She received her degree in December 2018, graduating with more than 60 credit hours, magna cum laude. Rivera will also receive her high school diploma from Dreyfoos on May 17.

“It’s still so wild that out of all the kids at my school, I would be able to earn my AA degree before my high school diploma,” Rivera said.

In addition to managing her course load, Rivera contended with transportation issues brought on by the necessity of taking classes at different Palm Beach State College campuses. She already lived some distance from Dreyfoos, and her dual enrollment program meant that her mother, Zoraida Fonseca, had to drive her around to classes on an almost daily basis. 

“She would wait in the parking lot for hours until my class was over,” Rivera said. “We did this for three years, no breaks. I didn’t have the luxury of hanging with friends because I couldn’t miss school, but in the end it was worth it.”

The time management and dedication Rivera demonstrated throughout the pursuit of her associate degree didn’t go unnoticed.

"Sonia is very hardworking, intelligent, thoughtful, and one of my favorite students,” said Jeffrey Stohr, one of Rivera’s teachers at Dreyfoos. “She will go far in life because she has the work ethic to do so."

That sentiment was echoed by another of Rivera’s teachers. "Sonia is a hardworking, gregarious, and dedicated young woman." said Ronald Lewis, who teaches Spanish at Dreyfoos.

Rivera is among two dual enrollment students in the District who graduated last fall, part of an increasing number of students exhibiting the discipline needed to handle the rigors of earning an associate degree while in high school. Rivera, who aspires to become a neurosurgeon, is also actively involved in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Psychology Honor Society at Dreyfoos.

She applied to 18 universities, gaining acceptance to 13 of them. She chose to attend the University of Florida, starting in summer 2019. Fonseca, who is a Community Language Facilitator at Royal Palm Beach Community High School, is full of pride about her daughter’s accomplishments.

“I am very proud of my daughter because she has worked extremely hard, and she is the first student in Dreyfoos’ history to graduate with an associate degree a semester before graduating from high school,” Fonseca said. “The more people would tell her it will never happen, the more determined she was, and she did it. She can conquer anything that is sent her way. Dios me la bendiga.”

“These two years under my belt are going to help me out so much. I have a long way to go before I can become a neurosurgeon, and I won’t give up,” Rivera said. “My hard work is paying off and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me.”

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