GPS program leads teen to success

He may only be a freshman in high school, but William Payne is preparing for college. He is part of the Graduate Pathways to Success (GPS) partnership between North Central State College and Mansfield City School District.

This is the first year for the program. It allows students to complete an associate degree while also meeting the requirements for high school graduation.

When William first heard about the program, he immediately told his mother, Veronica Williams Payne, that he wanted to sign up. “After the presentation, William came directly to me and told me I need to sign the paper for the GPS program and go to the meeting,” Veronica explains. As the gifted and talented teacher for the entire district, she recognized the opportunity for her son.

“The GPS program is a game changer. He’s getting information about college readiness much earlier than I did growing up,” Veronica says. “He is preparing for his future before heading out into the world. He’s taking the initiative for his education.”

The GPS program uses the College Credit plus model for dual enrollment in both high school and college courses, so the students graduate from high school and receive an associate degree, without incurring college debt.

“The GPS program means that I will graduate from college two weeks earlier than high school with my associate degree,” William says. “Instead of my first job being a part-time position at a fast-food restaurant, I might be able to already have a professional position.”

“I feel like I will probably brag about that in my adult life.”

It’s a program William says he will never regret getting involved in during high school. “If you think you can do it you absolutely should because it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.”

Veronica encourages parents of students in the Mansfield City School district to take the time to look into the program for their children. “If your kid has any interest in the medical profession or college in general you should try the program. They won’t miss out on their high school experiences and won’t have to travel between the buildings,” she explains.

“Parents should definitely go to the information meeting. That opened my eyes to a lot of things and it’s not an additional cost so it’s worth a try.”

In school William participates in cross country, cheerleading, and skiing. He volunteers at the Friendly House in Mansfield and would eventually like to be a camp counselor at Happy Hollow Day Camp.

The GPS program is just the beginning for William. He says, “I plan on doing more and expanding my college education past getting my associate degree.”