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TCC grad earns degree one year after diploma

Rachael Kay Fitzgerald has big plans for a future in politics.

“I’ve always loved reading and writing. But when I learned about our government, I was hooked and knew I’d one day work in politics,” she said.

Rachael Kay was an early 2022 graduate of Nansemond River High School. At 17, she started at Tidewater Community College in the Accelerated Degree Program (ADP).

“The last few years of high school were tough with the pandemic and virtual learning,” Rachael Kay said. “I came to TCC to knock out a degree. But what I found was a new excitement for learning.”

Rachael Kay will earn an Associate of Science in Social Sciences in June 2023, just one year after earning a high school diploma.

“I’ve loved my time at TCC. The faculty, staff and advisors are so friendly, and they really push you to more opportunities to help you get where you want to be in life,” she said. “I’ve made so many connections with people. I’m beyond grateful I started here.”

The ADP gives students the opportunity to earn a degree in one year, saving thousands by completing the first two years of college at TCC. ADP students receive personalized attention with low student-to-faculty ratios and regular academic advising.

 “When I started at TCC, I was overwhelmed and a little sad. All of my friends were still in high school, so it was a lonely time,” Rachael Kay said. “I started praying to God and asking for help and that’s what kept me. He opened doors and made a way for me to do this.”

While at TCC, Rachael Kay’s favorite professor was Lara Tedrow, who teaches psychology. “Dr. Tedrow was so amazing, and we had some really good conversations. She made me love psychology even more,” she said.

Rachael Kay plans to transfer to Christopher Newport University to study psychology and political science. From there, she has her sights set on William and Mary Law School and a career in criminal defense or corporate law before jumping into politics. She hopes to make a difference for many.

“Whenever you feel like quitting, don’t do it. Just remember what you are fighting for. For me, I’m fighting for a law degree and a future political career,” she said. “Even though it’s years down the line, that keeps me going.”