6 Morristown high school students getting college degree before high school graduation

The first six Walters State students to complete a technical degree through a Dual Enrollment College cohort will graduate May 8. The students will receive associate degrees in engineering technology almost a month before completing their high school diplomas.

Morristown East students Mashiyat Akland, Owen Roberts, and Gabe Lamney and Morristown West students Anai Perez Hernandez, Elisha Brewer, and Yahir Palacios will graduate prepared to work in a wide variety of areas within electrical engineering and engineering systems.

The cohort was a collaboration between Walters State, the Morristown-Hamblen School System and local industries. While many contributed, Howmet made a major contribution.

“Students who aspire to a career in these fields often face barriers common to all college students. Obstacles facing technical students can be substantial,” said Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State.

“Working with the Hamblen County School System and local industries, we were able to remove most of those barriers. Students attended at no cost, transportation was provided by the school system and our faculty members were committed to the success of these students,” Miksa said.

Students chose the cohort two years ago, when it was time to make a pathway decision.

“This was created to assure that all students have the opportunity to pursue their postsecondary education and career goals,” said Chuck Carter, director of Career Technical Education for the Hamblen County Board of Education.

“I am impressed with the grit and resilience this cohort of students showed in reaching these two milestone accomplishments,” said Carter.

The group also impressed Dr. Bob Dixon, head of the engineer technology program at Walters State.

Many in the group have excelled in their academic studies within the Electrical Engineering Technology program,” Dixon said.

“As the levels of technology used in the workplace continue to advance, we foresee the need for highly-trained graduates from our A.A.S. programs in both electrical engineering technology and engineering systems technology to continue to grow,” Dixon said.

Students interested in taking technical dual enrollment classes should talk to high school guidance counselors or email Matthew Hunter, dean of distance education, at

Matthew.Hunter@ws.edu.