Herald/David Morris - Isis Gardner of Ellison High School breaks into laughter as she is forced to squat down to receive her bioscience cord from Nelda Howton during a ceremony Friday morning at Temple College in Temple.

By Candace Birkelbach

Killeen Daily Herald

Several students from the Killeen Independent School District will receive their associate degrees from Temple College today, weeks before receiving their high school diplomas.

Eight students from KISD participated in the Texas Bioscience Institute Middle College program, which allows qualified high school students to enroll in dual-credit coursework in their junior and senior years.

The hardworking students received their graduation cords at a ceremony Friday and will graduate at 10 a.m. today at Temple College's commencement at the Mayborn Campus Center on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus in Belton.

The eight KISD students receiving their Associate in Arts degrees are Angelina Noblitt, Melissa Windham and Michael Zachar of Harker Heights High School, and Isis Gardner, Brittany Harris, Laura Miramontes, Michelle Oldham and Chelsey Wasson of Ellison High School. Weston Harmon of Belton High School also will receive a degree.

Gardner said her graduation from college is bittersweet.

"It's a relief that it's finally done, but I'm leaving all my friends behind," Gardner said.

Harris said she feels relieved that all her hard work has paid off. She said she is glad to be done with some of her basic coursework for her nursing degree.

Several other KISD students will receive their cords for completing college credits at Temple College. Sarah Crespo, of Harker Heights High School, is one of those students.

Crespo said it was a long haul to complete her college courses, but she is excited about getting out of Killeen and attending Knox College in Illinois. Crespo said she enrolled in the program for the hands-on medical training.

Crespo's mother, Mildred Crespo, was in tears about her daughter's cording ceremony Friday.

Mildred said she is fortunate to watch her daughter graduate because she was in a car accident last year that almost killed her.

"She applied to the program while in the hospital," Mildred said.

Throughout the program, students attended their respective high schools for part of the day and went to classes at the Texas Bioscience Institute for part of the day. After two years in the program, students may earn enough credits to complete the two-year Associate of Arts degree from Temple College.

The rigorous curriculum prepares students for careers in biotechnology, research and medical fields. This is the second year for the Temple College partnership with area high schools that has 114 students representing more than a dozen schools.

Contact Candace Birkelbach at candaceb@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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