Dual Admit Zimmerman Weik HACC Lebanon 4x6

Elco grads Aleesa Zimmerman, Meagan Weik plan career

May 1, 2008
LEBANON - Best friends and classmates Aleesa Zimmerman and Meagan Weik are taking a collaborative approach to their college education and are at the mid-point of their journey.
After completing finals this week at the Lebanon Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, the duo will be among the several hundred students who will receive an associate degree during Spring Commencement at 7 p.m. Monday, May 12, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Then they’ll transfer to nearby Millersville University where they’ll pursue bachelor’s degrees in elementary education.
Zimmerman of Schaefferstown and Weik of Myerstown became friends as seniors at Eastern Lebanon County High School, drawn together by their passion to work with children and mutual career goal to teach children with special needs. They decided to enroll together at the Lebanon Campus in fall 2006 to pursue associate degrees in elementary education.
 “We both were going for the same major so we thought it would be cool if we could go to the same school, have two best friends taking the same classes and eventually transfer to the same university,” Zimmerman said.
Both 19-year-olds wanted to stay close to home for their first two years of college, and found HACC’s Dual Admission Agreement opportunity to be the right choice to meet their goals.
“I wanted the college university experience but always wanted to stay close to home? possibly something I could do while still living at home,” said Zimmerman.
Although Weik was accepted by other colleges, she said she also wanted to stay close to home and eventual transfer to a four-year institution. “I just liked the idea of being so close to home. I just didn’t feel like I was ready to move away. I wanted to save up some money, so I liked that I would be able to still work and go to school,” Weik said.
They took their placement tests together, decided upon Millersville University as their transfer school of choice, and started classes to fulfill their dream of becoming a teacher.
Zimmerman found her niche when her summer camp counselor job gave her the opportunity to work with children with Down syndrome. “I always loved working with children, but since that summer I have had a yearning and passion in my heart to teach children with special needs,” Zimmerman said.
 Weik discovered her passion working one-on-one with students with special needs in ELCO’s Service Learning program. “Being in the classroom was very rewarding. The kids really were excited to see you and really appreciated what you were doing for them,” she said.
They kept on track at HACC by meeting regularly semester-by-semester with their advisor and counselors to make sure they were adhering to specific course requirements needed for admission into a four-year institution. Their official transcripts also were reviewed each semester by admissions personnel at Millersville.
“I went into the (Dual Admission Program) very naïve,” Zimmerman said. “I knew I wanted to eventually transfer to Millersville but I didn’t have much knowledge on how to go about it.” She credits Barbara Grandia, associate professor of counseling, for guiding her in the right direction.
After graduation from HACC, the two best friends plan to transfer to Millersville this fall, and hope to align their schedules so they can carpool to classes.
“We really liked having our classes together and we want to do the same thing when we transfer. It seems a lot easier to get through college when you have someone else to help you with homework and who knows what you are going through,” said Weik.
HACC partners with diverse institutions to provide several transfer options for students like Zimmerman and Weik, including the 20-year-old Dual Admission Agreement program. Currently, HACC has approximately 750 students collegewide who plan to transfer to one of 12 regional schools, ranging from Albright College and Drexel University to Lebanon Valley College and Penn State Harrisburg.
 “Many of our student’s ask themselves, ‘What if my credits don’t transfer?’ This special program that we have with select schools really simplifies this sometimes-confusing transfer process so students don’t have to worry about lost credits,” said Kay Litman, coordinator of student services at the Lebanon Campus.
 “When students are dually enrolled they can begin here at HACC and can transfer somewhere else seamlessly. We clearly know what our sister institution is looking for … our advisers will hold your hand through this process,” Litman said
Grandia works daily with the program and said transferability is always a big question with the students she advises. “Student’s can’t assume just because they have their junior status that they can transfer to any program at any school.”
The Dual Admissions program combines a collaborative relationship between the student and HACC adviser and the personal attention from the four-year institution.  “It also eases a lot of the parent’s anxiety for traditional students,” Grandia added.
          A benefit of being dually enrolled is that HACC students can enjoy some benefits offered at their four-year institution, including access to libraries, athletic centers and other campus facilities, Litman said. Scholarship opportunities, comprehensive financial aid programs and waived application fees are also available but also vary by college.
“I am excited to experience the university experience, see the differences between HACC and Millersville, and get more into my education courses,” said Weik.
Even though the students won’t be leaving home, they say they’ll miss their home away from home.
“Because the classes at HACC are relatively small the professors really get to know you and you get to know your professor. I have really gotten to meet so many people and I have made a lot of close friends,” said Weik.
“Mostly all of the teachers that I had made sure they helped me get the best experience possible. Socially you meet just as many people as you would in a regular college environment. And the learning centers were great and are a true example that the teachers are there for us,” said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman and Weik are waiting to receive their official acceptance letter from Millersville University and look forward to a spring 2010 graduation. Both plan to teach in the area and would feel right at home if they ended up teaching across the hall from one another.
“I think it would be awesome to be able to teach in the elementary school that I grew up in right here in Schaefferstown,” said Zimmerman.
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