The 2005 class of Chipola College made history on Thursday night. The calls included the first group of students to earn a four-year degree at the former two-year school.
Meghan Smith currently interns as a math teacher at Roulac Middle School in Chipley.
Meghan says, “I’m just a small-town girl and basically that's all there is to it. Chipola's been great."
She's one of six students that are now the first to graduate from Chipola College's baccalaureate degree program. Smith says it was a way to earn her degree while staying close to home.
"I thought it was a perfect opportunity and I just joined the first class, and I actually loved it. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
The program started in the fall off 2002 in response to the shortage of math and science teachers in Florida.
Dr. Kitty Myers, Associate VP of the program, says, “It's difficult to recruit people to these rural areas. If they go off to the universities then they teach in that area, then they don't come back.”
For others, the four-year degree program was an opportunity they thought they'd never have because of the lack of resources.
"We have three students who had been out of school for quite some time because they couldn't go on, so they resigned themselves to not getting a bachelors degree, so this is a wonderful opportunity for them.
And for the school system in our area.
"When our students graduate, they're already qualified to teach either mathematics or biology, or science in the middle schools and the high school of our region."
Thanks to Chipola College and Meghan Smith, other Chipola graduates may soon be teaching in a classroom near you. Chipola College officials expect enrollment in their four-year degree program to be over 30 students by next fall.