TRMC Seniors Forge Paths with Associate Degrees in Hand

TRMC Seniors Forge Paths with Associate Degrees in Hand

While their aspirations are different, two Three River Middle College (TRMC) seniors are set to embark on their college journeys with an important similarity: Alexi Switz and Jaeden Spitale are both on track to earn their Associate's degrees concurrent with their high school diplomas.

Switz, of Stonington, and Spitale, of Baltic, have worked hard to earn their credits at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich. LEARN runs TRMC at the college in a program that allows high school students to take college classes and earn transferrable credits toward their college degrees. Now, after several semesters in a row of taking 12-15 credits, Switz and Spitale are on the verge of earning degrees.

“It is very difficult and a lot of work, but the staff and teachers at TRMC really prepare you well,” said Switz. “Once you get into your full college schedule, you’re not going to drown. The staff here makes all the difference.”

Switz and Spitale both recognize they took a risk in transferring to TRMC for their junior and senior years of high school. Spitale was an honors student and three-sport athlete at Norwich Tech. Switz was attending a very small and close-knit high school on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound.

Spitale’s sister is a TRMC graduate, and she inspired him to enroll at the school. In addition to college level core courses like English and math, he would get the chance to take classes in criminal justice and sociology. Additionally, he could save significant money by earning college credits while still in high school.

He said his classmates and teachers helped him stay motivated, as well the desire to earn his Associate's degree. Spitale found himself spending six hours per day studying and taking classes during the summer and winter to continue to earn credits.

“I’m really looking forward to spring break because it will be my first real break in two years,” Spitale said. “When you’re here, you’re basically working for money. We are earning free college credits and we may be leaving with an actual college degree. Seeing that goal keeps you motivated.”

His hard work has paid off. Spitale has earned a presidential scholarship to attend Roger Williams University in Providence, where he hopes to major in criminal justice and work toward a career in law enforcement.

In addition to earning credits, the science and math classes offered at TRMC were intriguing to Switz. She plans on entering a biomedical track in college and fell in love with the program and curriculum that TRMC offered. Once enrolled, she said she found a “quick learning curve” to adapt to college habits and schedule. The classes were harder and more advanced, but she found allies in her classmates and support from her teachers.

“I feel really prepared,” she said. “This school teaches you a lot about independence and good study habits.”

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