Get to know La Salle’s dual-enrollment students
By Christopher A. Vito
Photography by Dan Nguyen
At an on-campus orientation in August, La Salle Magazine spoke to Philadelphia-area high school students who were set to enter La Salle University’s dual-enrollment programs. Here are some of their stories:
“A step in the right direction”
Zykai Wright won’t deny—she’s adept at multi-tasking. It’s an essential skill for anyone who, like Wright, is enrolled in high school while dually taking college-level courses. She has studied at Community College of Philadelphia since she turned 14. Today, Wright is a 12th-grader at Parkway Center City Middle College, a vocational school in the School District of Philadelphia, and she’s part of La Salle’s Early Achievement Program (LEAP).
“There’s a lot to manage, but it’s really nice,” said Wright, who resides in the city’s Logan neighborhood. “I like the classes at La Salle and the professors are great to work with. They’re consistent. What I mean by that is they’re all willing to work with you. They’re all approachable and willing to help when you need it.”
One example: Wright has leaned upon the guidance and tutelage of Elizabeth Schroeder, an instructor in La Salle’s School of Business and the director of the University’s Business Leadership Fellows Program. Among many topics, Schroeder’s course Business Professionalism and Career Preparation exposed students to virtual interviewing focused on articulation of their value proposition and strengths using tangible examples. The students developed resumes and LinkedIn profiles. They even practiced elevator pitches to showcase their personalities, professional acumen, and skillsets.
“These are lifelong skills that are relevant to any age group,” Schroeder said. “In further developing these skills, they will increasingly become confident and empowered college students and professionals as they progress in their lives. The LEAP students in my course delivered at a level that was on-par with my second-year students. They were an impressive, hard-working group.”
The course taught Wright the significance of job-interview etiquette, like making and maintaining eye contact. Those tactics paid off in a big way, Wright said.
“I interviewed for a job,” she said, “and I got a call back with a job offer the same day.”
Wright’s ability to time-manage, tackle competing priorities, and complete multiple projects has been tested, she said—never more so than during that job interview.
“I’m very prepared for college and life after college, and that’s because of La Salle,” said Wright, who considers La Salle her top college choice. “La Salle has pushed me further. This program has been a step in the right direction. It’s gotten me ready for whatever comes next—and I hope that’s double-majoring in political science and philosophy.”
“Why not try something new?”
Nolan Eichorn is always up for a challenge. When the pandemic thrust him into a homebound lifestyle, he (quite literally) took unicycling for a spin. He even tried his hand, so to speak, at juggling.
“I’m a very hands-on learner,” said Eichorn, a 12th-grade student at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Pa.
An official at Archbishop Wood informed Eichorn that his status as one of the top-30 students in his graduating class at the school qualified him for entry into one of La Salle’s dual-enrollment programs.
“I thought, ‘Why not try something else that’s new?’” said Eichorn, a prospective biology major and aspiring orthodontist.
A first-generation college student, Eichorn will share classroom space with full-time La Salle students. He is receptive to all this La Salle program has to offer. Weekly, he will complete his regular high-school course work by 11 a.m. before logging into one course delivered remotely or commuting to La Salle for another course offered face-to-face.
“Why wouldn’t I take advantage of what La Salle has to offer?” said Eichorn, who was wearing a La Salle t-shirt with blue and yellow lettering. “Not only do I get to finish classes and earn college credits toward my undergraduate degree, but I get to experience college before my peers do. It’s exciting; it’s a different opportunity than what others get to experience.”
Vivian Le, another student, shared similar feelings. A 12th-grade student at Little Flower High School for Girls, the Northeast Philadelphia native viewed La Salle’s program as “a great opportunity” to get ahead of her peers.
“Otherwise, “I’m looking forward to seeing the campus and getting to know what college is like,” said Le, whose desired career path is in chemical engineering.
“A chance to expand her mind”
When it comes to her future, Joelle Lewis-Taliaferro is uncertain about her professional calling, but she is certain about attending college.
The Community Scholars program at La Salle brought Lewis-Taliaferro to the University’s campus in August for its dual-enrollment orientation night. Her mother hinted that intellectual curiosity also might have played a role.
Nyeshia Taliaferro offered this anecdote: The family’s vacuum cleaner had broken some years back, and Taliaferro noticed her then-8-year-old daughter walking over to it. “I remember saying to her, ‘We need to have the vacuum fixed. We’re not trying to break it more,’” she said, pausing briefly to laugh while recounting the story. In short order, Lewis-Taliaferro had disassembled and repaired the appliance.
“Now, I ask you—what child does that?” Taliaferro said. “My daughter doesn’t always acknowledge her brilliance, and that’s why I’m thankful she can get this opportunity at La Salle, particularly as a junior. It’s a chance for her to expand her mind and her scope of college life, and expose herself to something different. I’m so proud of her.”
“A perfect fit”
Kalinda Tran had an upper hand on her peers. Her elder sister completed one of La Salle’s dual-enrollment programs—one, she described, that “pushed Cindy to be at her very best,” said Kalinda, a Northeast Philadelphia native.
Through her familial connection to the program, Kalinda Tran learned more about La Salle’s dual-enrollment offerings, which put high-performing students on a path toward earning college credits at no cost.
“I considered all the plus sides—all that I had heard from my sister and all that I had read about the program—and that’s how I knew this program was a perfect fit,” said Kalinda Tran, a 12th-grade student at Central High School who envisions majoring in either art education or history.