Students share the life-changing impact of early college programs with state leaders

Students share the life-changing impact of early college programs with state leaders

Nov 18, 2022

Melanie Cerin is only in her junior year at Framingham High School, but thanks to the MetroWest Scholars Early Start program that she has been a part of since 8th grade, she has already earned 37 credits toward her college degree.

"As a first-generation, low-income woman, going to college was never the plan," Cerin said. "I poured my heart out into every class that I have been given, and now I'm here, I'm going to college and I have 37 credits to my name at this moment."

Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka and Secretary of Education James Peyser were on hand for a special roundtable in Framingham on November 17th with students and education leaders to talk about the impact of Early College Programs and the MassGrant Plus financial aid grants. The event took place at MassBay Community College’s Framingham campus and included Framingham State President Nancy Niemi, MassBay President David Podell and Framingham Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tremblay.

"The more kids who graduate from high school with a lot of college credits, the more confident they are about their ability to do it, and they will have established a relationship with college professors and other college students," said Gov. Baker. "That is absolutely, positively going to enhance the likelihood that those kids will graduate…I would like this program to be available in every school district in Massachusetts."

The MetroWest Scholars Early Start Program is an initiative of the MetroWest Planning Collaborative, operated in partnership by Framingham State University and MassBay Community College. The program provides students with access to college-level work and courses starting in 8th grade and continuing until they enroll in college. Academic tutoring, wellness meetings, college readiness and career explorations, excursions and enrichment are provided to keep students on track.

There are currently 435 students in the program at Framingham, Milford and Waltham public schools, of which 71 percent are economically disadvantaged and 68 percent would be the first in their families to attend college. Collectively, the students have earned more than 2,100 credits toward their college degrees, for a savings of almost $500,000 in tuition.

"I want to thank Framingham Public Schools, MassBay and Framingham State for having this unique and beautiful partnership," said Spilka. "Other schools in other areas of the state should replicate this partnership because it’s so incredible."

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.