When Hagen Walker graduated recently from Davenport North, he was carrying just a little more paper than his compatriots.
Walker, 18, got his diploma and an associate degree in liberal arts — something North offers in partnership with Eastern Iowa Community College. He also graduated with an associate degree in science.
Now he is planning to go to Utah State to study mechanical and aerospace engineering, he said. After that he wants to work at what he called his “dream companies.”
“I’d like to work at SpaceX or NASA,” he said.
His interest in science and working in the aerospace industry began during his studies after he was able to see the concepts he was learning being used.
“I’ve always been a big math person, and I really enjoyed my calculus classes, and then when I took physics and it was applied math and applied calculus, I sort of just fell in love with that aspect,” Walker said.
The associate in science is not something offered via the Davenport Community School District’s partnership with EICC, so Walker went after it himself, he said. He took those classes during the summer or online during the school year.
Having the two associate degrees is helping him accomplish his goals by taking care of the general education requirements he would have had to meet at college, Walker said.
“And then a couple of my first-year introductory science classes are gone, so it’s sort of shortened my time (at college),” he said.
There have been 216 Davenport school district students divided between five cohorts who have graduated with a liberal arts associate degree since the creation of the program, according to a district news release. Of those, 44 graduated from North in the 2020-2021 school year.
For the 2021-2022 school year, another 70 students have enrolled in the program, the release states.
It is absolutely astonishing to watch 40 or 50 students graduate with an associate degree, district Superintendent TJ Schneckloth said. Whether they are interested in being a lawyer or a doctor or going into the trades, the program helps them do so more quickly.
“They are so much farther ahead,” Schneckloth said. “There are so many more doors that are opened for them.”