New Grants Help Teens Jump Start to College Credit

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
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Wizard the Lizard with Eddie Perez, a Hug Hawk and TMCC student.

High school students in the region can get a head start on a certificate or degree by earning college credits at Truckee Meadows Community College in one of two ways—by taking a Jump Start cohort class right at their own campus, or by enrolling in regular college classes at TMCC sites.

“High school students, grades 9–12, throughout Nevada have an opportunity to enroll in courses that can transfer to colleges across the country,” said Susan Mayes-Smith, Academic Dual Credit Coordinator. “TMCC provides that vital head start into college for many aspiring young people.”

She added that many of the region’s residents might not know that many courses have no pre-requisites, and a number of the classes are offered online.

“What is really stunning is that there is a 93% success rate in the cohort-based classes offered at high schools in the area,” she said.

ELM Grant for Tesla Positions

The Governor's Office of Economic Development, Workforce Innovations for a New Nevada (WINN) has awarded TMCC a grant that will support two Jump Start cohort groups in Spring Semester. Students will earn three college credits, and eligibility for a $17-an-hour job at the Gigafactory for Tesla, Inc. or Panasonic Energy of North America. The mega-facility is east of Reno and Sparks.

“The students will receive a highly skilled certification, and if they choose, it can lead to a very well-paying job right out of high school,” Mayes-Smith said.

The two Electrical and Mechanical Technology (ELM) classes will be taught at Hug High School and Sparks High School by TMCC Instructor Alexander Majewski.

NDE Grant and a Professor’s Story

A new Nevada Department of Education (NDE) grant for $161,000 will fund many other college Jump Start courses, including English Composition sections.

TMCC English Professor Elizabeth Humphrey has been teaching at TMCC since 1996, beginning a full-time position in 2002. In the Fall Semester 2016, she accepted a new challenge of adding to her schedule the Jump Start high school cohort-based sections of ENG 101 and 102: English Composition I and II. In the Jump Start cohort program, high school students earn both diploma requirements and college credits.

Humphrey believes that the students are ready, prepared; and that the program fills a need for these young scholars who are ambitious to begin their post-secondary studies.

“The students want to go to college, it’s not because their mom and dad want them to—it’s exciting,” Humphrey said. “Why should we make people wait when they know where they want to go, and they just want to get there.”

The students are enthusiastic and Professor Humphrey is energized by their drive.

“Their presence in my life is inspirational—it’s great to apply concepts of the class to current events and what’s happening in our culture now; the impact of technology,” she added. “It’s a paradigm shift; it’s bigger than being the first one in your neighborhood to have a color TV. To see a generation grow up with technology—they’re full of possibilities. There are no barriers for them. They can just go. They have so much information at their fingertips. They have no limits.”

Program Expansion

“I’d like to see the program extended to other high schools in the Reno-Sparks area,” Humphrey said. “There are a lot more students out there who would embrace a program like this. These students are achievers; they’re motivated and have already demonstrated that in their schoolwork.”

The program is indeed expanding.

Sparks High School, a new school to the program will offer CHS 101: Introduction to Community Health Sciences for three credits.

During Spring Semester, the cohort-based classes are being taught at eight Washoe County School District public and charter schools, and at three TMCC sites. WCSD high schools that host cohort-based classes include the following:

  • Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology (AACT)
  • Alpine Academy Charter School
  • Damonte Ranch High School (classes at nearby Redfield Campus)
  • Galena High School (classes at nearby Redfield Campus)
  • Online course for JAG Nevada students throughout district
  • Procter R. Hug High School
  • Spanish Springs High School
  • Sparks High School

New EPY and BIOL Sections

Another new offering is a three-credit transferable EPY 101: Educational, Career, and Personal Development course. It will be taught online for 30 WCSD high school students. The Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Nevada program selects students for this EPY course. JAG Nevada is a private, nonprofit organization that provides support for at-risk youth. Other states also conduct their own JAG programs.

Finally, a new section of BIOL 100: General Biology for Non-Majors will be taught at Hug High School. The biology course is a science requirement for non-math and non-science majors.

Jump Start to TMCC Early Admissions

Humphrey is also excited that high school students can enroll in college classes at TMCC through Jump Start to TMCC (J2TMCC), especially if no cohort-based class is offered at their high school.

“I’ve found that the students have a very high energy and are eager to learn—I’d say about 92% come to class prepared and ready to talk,” she added. “They’re engaged.”

Enrollment steps are outlined at

Student Outreach Coordinator Karen Rubio manages the J2TMCC Program. “As a TMCC alumna, I know TMCC has great choices for everyone,” Rubio said. “Jump Start gives those options and opportunities to high school students, which is amazing. They get to start college early on and experience the great courses and instructors we have.”

For more information about J2TMCC, please call Karen Rubio at 775-674-7638, or email her at Additional information about early admission and Jump Start may be found by contacting the Access, Outreach and Recruitment Office at 775-673-8236.