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My Student Experience: Dual Enrollment Programs Put Transfer Students on Path to Teaching

Ally and Caitlyn
Ally Dolinshek, left, and Caitlyn Frazier, right are both elementary education students at the NC State College of Education.

After Caitlyn Frazier graduated high school, she knew she wanted to be home for her young son, but she also knew she wanted to continue her education and one day become a teacher. While she was attending Durham Technical Community College, her partner told her about NC State’s Community College Collaboration (C3) dual enrollment program.

“It was an easier route for me to be able to take only two to three classes, while obtaining my associate’s degree and being able to do more of my classes online, while being home with my son,” Frazier said. “And then financially, too, that was a big help.”

When Ally Dolinshek graduated high school, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a teacher, so she decided to attend Johnston Community College and plan her next steps. There, she was introduced to another dual enrollment program, this one a partnership between the NC State College of Education, Johnston Community College and Johnston County Schools.

For both Frazier and Dolinshek, these dual enrollment programs provide affordable pathways to the NC State College of Education. 

“Once you get accepted into the C3 program, you really get all this support and help,” Frazier said. “If you are in a community college, I think this is the way to go.”

Frazier credits her advisor at Durham Tech, Catherine Ward, with helping her through the transfer process, in the same way Dolinshek said she appreciated the support she received from her advisor at Johnston Community College, Carla Stafford, as well as from NC State College of Education Director of Advising Amanda Beller

“[Beller] was always helpful in letting me know I was taking the right classes,” Dolinshek said.

In addition to the support Dolinshek received through advisors, she was also able to benefit from the opportunity, provided by the NC State College of Education through its partnership with Johnston Community College, to take ED 204: Introduction to Teaching in Today’s Schools. In the course, Dolinshek completed her first field experience at Riverwood Middle School in Johnston County.

“We were able to list out schools where we would prefer to go, so I was able to conveniently go to one that was only five minutes away from my house and not have to drive to a school that’s 30 minutes away,” Dolinshek said.

Dolinshek said that experience confirmed her desire to enter the field of education. 

“When I got into the classroom it showed me I really did want to teach,” Dolinshek said. “It felt really comfortable for me.”

When it came time to transfer, both Dolinshek and Frazier felt ready to join the NC State College of Education. And for Frazier, not only did she join the Wolfpack, but she was also accepted into the Goodnight Scholars Program Transfer Class of 2025

Frazier said when she found out she had been accepted, she “did a little happy dance where I was.” Since then, she’s appreciated the opportunity to get to know the other transfer students in the Goodnight Scholars. 

“Being a non-traditional student with my fellow peers is pretty awesome,” Frazier said. “You just really get to be part of a community with people who took the same route as you.”

Now that both Frazier and Dolinshek’s paths have led them to the NC State College of Education, the two junior elementary education majors are taking advantage of the opportunities to engage in higher level education courses and spend more time in the classroom.

This semester, Dolinshek said she has enjoyed her field experience at Bugg Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh.

“It’s really fun to get involved with students, even just going around the room and working with them on stuff,” Dolinshek said. “And we have little assignments from our classes that we plan out to do with the students in our field classroom.”

Frazier’s field experience is over at Green Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, and she said she has also appreciated the connections between her coursework and her time in the school.

“It was really cool to see that what we’re actually learning in our education classes is actually being practiced in the school,” Frazier said. “Just yesterday, [my mentor teacher] was going over exactly what we learned in class, which was super awesome to see.” 

For now, both Frazier and Dolinshek say they are putting a priority on academic success in their first full semester in the NC State College of Education. But they are also both looking forward to futures as teachers that started in dual enrollment programs. 

“The kids are amazing and being able to teach them, like really teach the new generation, is just awesome,” Frazier said.