In third grade, Raven Osborne’s teacher labeled her as a student with a learning disability who wouldn’t be successful. Ten years later, Osborne is being lauded for her success story.
Osborne received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in secondary education from Purdue University Northwest earlier this week. On May 22, the college graduate will walk across the stage to collect her high school diploma from the 21st Century Charter High School in Gary, Indiana.
Since her freshman year at the high school known as 21C, Raven has taken college courses in tandem with her high school classes. Like many of her classmates, Osborne worked towards an associate’s degree in general studies.
By the end of her sophomore year in 2015, Osborne had already completed the course work and earned her associate’s degree from Ivy Tech Community College.
With two years of high school left, Osborne set her sights on something bigger. She approached Kevin Teasley, 21C’s superintendent, about what options were available.
In an interview with the Northwest Indiana Times, Teasley said that he contacted the state for clarification on whether or not Osborne could begin working towards her bachelor’s degree.
“I checked with the state. The state said it’s fine for her to keep taking college classes. There is no upper limit on college courses.”
In August 2015, Osborne enrolled in Purdue University Northwest. Over the next two years, she worked to complete the required 60 credits, while balancing her high school studies and an internship with 21C’s elementary school.
While her professors recognized Osborne’s academic prowess, several were impressed to learn of Osborne’s ambitious endeavor.
Ralph Cherry, associate professor of sociology, spoke to Purdue University Northwest News about the student, whom he described as poised and confident.
“It was delightful having her in class, because she conveyed an interest and intelligence about the issues raised. Her qualities seem to include being consistent, planful, thoughtful and thorough.”
In that same interview, Su-Joeng Wee, an assistant professor of human development and family studies, said that while Osborne never revealed her high school status, “she did talk about her passion to teach.”
Purdue spokesman Wes Lukoshus released a statement to the Northwest Indiana Times that praised Osborne’s success.
“She not only is academically gifted, but (also) has demonstrated amazing intellectual maturity in her pursuit of a baccalaureate degree at Purdue Northwest. She is joining a small number of students who have come to our university at a relatively young age to complete a baccalaureate degree program.”
After she was presented with her bachelor’s degree, Raven spoke with WLS 7 News.
“I have had my goals, and I achieved them.”
Raven credited her mom Hazel, 21C, Ivy Tech, and Purdue University Northwest for supporting her dreams.
While Osborne becomes the first 21C student to earn a bachelor’s degree before her high school graduation, she is not the first 21C student to earn an associate’s degree. The school has offered the dual studies program for four years now.
21st Century Charter School partnered with Ivy Tech Community College to offer a program called Middle College. The school’s website describes Middle College as “a collaboration between a high school and a college or university to allow high school students who qualify to enroll in and take college courses for credit.”
The program allows qualifying students, like Osborne, to pursue their high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time. The program is being praised across the country because it allows students to experience college life at no cost to their parents.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, Teasley praised Raven achievements and offered her as an inspirational role model for today’s young people. Teasley said he hoped that other students might follow her example.
Osborne initially wanted to become a social worker and focused her studies on early childhood education. For now, though, it seems that Raven has found a different way to give back to her community and those who supported her.
After Raven graduates from high school in a few weeks, hopefully, she will take some time off before returning to 21st Century Charter School in her new role – teacher.
What do you think of Raven Osborne’s inspirational story? Do you think programs like the Middle College should be implemented nationwide?
[Featured Image by Purdue University Northwest]