Daniel Stephani is like many young high school students; he plays a varsity sport, has a part-time job, and loves to pursue his hobbies in his “spare” time, but there is one thing that really sets him apart from most of his Flagstaff High School classmates.
For the past two years, Stephani, 17, has been experiencing college life at Coconino Community College and earning college credit. When Stephani graduates in May, he will be well on his way to an Administration of Justice Degree, having earned 50 college credits while still in high school.
How did he do it?
Stephani took advantage of the CAVIAT program, which stands for Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology. The CAVIAT Central Programs are a partnership between CAVIAT, CCC and the Flagstaff Unified School District and available to local high school juniors and seniors at no cost to the students.
The CAVIAT Central programs are two-year programs designed to give high school students a jump start on college,” said Kathy Nesbit, CCC’s High School Transitions Coordinator and oversees the program at the College.
The courses are offered from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at CCC’s Flagstaff campuses after the student has attended high school classes in the morning.
For Stephani, at first college was a challenge, mainly because it was little awkward being around older students, but it became less of a challenge with each class. By his second year it was no big deal, he said. Now, in addition to dual enrollment, Stephani said he has dual friendships with his high school and college classmates.
“The sacrifice has definitely been worth it because now I know what to expect when I transfer to Northern Arizona University after completing my AA degree at CCC,” Stephani said. “The college classes I took at CCC are definitely harder than my high school classes, but because I was interested in the subject learning the material seemed to come easily. The other benefit to the CAVIAT program is that it saved my parents and me a lot of money and will go a long way in reducing college debt for us.”
The Administration of Justice program Stephani has been studying at CCC is designed to prepare students to enter the workforce in the criminal justice arena. This program teaches students specific knowledge and skills, which will assist in securing employment in a wide variety of law enforcement and corrections/juvenile detention positions.
“My goal is to become an Arizona Game and Fish officer, but the degree will provide other opportunities for me too,” Stephani said.
Stephani is part of CCC’s fifth cohort of CAVIAT students, Nesbit said.
“I am continually amazed at the dedication and drive these kids have,” she said. “Most adult learners could not do what they are doing. One of the best parts of my job is watching the CAVIAT students arrive on campus the first day as kids and quickly become adult students who know what they want in life and what they need to do to reach their goals.”
The CAVIAT program is the beginning of the educational pipeline and is a key component to helping high school students earn associate and bachelor’s degrees faster and at a lower cost than the traditional route. It is another example of CCC’s quest for Excellence, Efficiency and Effectiveness.