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Getting ahead with Dual Enrollment
Heritage student awarded Coke scholarship
Natalee Dukes - photo by Submitted Photo

Local teen Natalee Dukes has spent the last two years working diligently towards her goal of becoming a doctor – while still finishing high school. The senior also amassed an impressive collection of awards and honors along the way.

As a 16-year old sophomore, Dukes decided she was ready to leave Heritage and become a full-time Dual Enrollment/Move On When Ready student at Georgia Perimeter. Dukes took advantage of a new statewide program that allows high school students with a 3.0 GPA or higher to enroll fulltime at secondary institutions for college and high school credit.

“I wanted more freedom and more of a challenge,” said Dukes. “I knew I could enroll at Georgia Perimeter and I could finish high school and my first two years of college at the same time.”

Dukes was recently named a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Silver Scholar. She also has been named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Georgia Academic Team and she is Georgia Perimeter College Newton Campus’ Regents Outstanding Scholar. Phi Theta Kappa is the honor society for two-year colleges.

“Natalee looked for an academically challenging environment and found it at GPC,” Georgia Perimeter President Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli said.

In May, Dukes will leave GPC with 4.0 GPA and two weeks later ­ she’ll get a diploma from Heritage High School. She’ll transfer to a four-year college in the fall as a junior—a full two years ahead of her peers.

For her academic success, Dukes has been named a Coca-Cola Silver Scholar, which comes with a $1,250 stipend and a special medallion. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation recognized Dukes during the Phi Theta Kappa state honors ceremony.

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students,” said J. Mark Davis, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.”

In addition to the honor from Coca-Cola, Dukes has been named to the PTK All-Georgia Academic Team. For this honor Dukes had to demonstrate academic excellence as well as service to her campus community. Dukes served as a presidential ambassador at GPC.

“Being named to the All-Georgia Academic Team is a really huge honor,” says Dukes who plans to continue her pre-med studies at the University of Georgia this fall. “I didn’t expect this recognition and I am honored to be considered a member of the All-Georgia Academic Team.”

According to Rod Risley, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa, brilliant students like Dukes should be recognized, encouraged and supported.

“Their support is especially welcome during this challenging economic climate, as more and more community college students need additional resources to help them complete their degrees,” Risley said.

Dukes said leaving high school early and coming to GPC was the right decision.

“I knew I was ready for a new academic environment,” Dukes said.  “I visited the Newton Campus and saw it as a perfect fit. At GPC I had the chance to hear insights I would not have been exposed to at high school. GPC was challenging and rewarding.”