Elliot Kowalski of Ottawa earned his associate in science and associate in arts degrees from Illinois Valley Community Collegea week before he graduated from Marquette Academy in late May.
Kowalski, 18, is the first graduate of “Running Start,” a dual-credit and dual enrollment partnership between IVCC and Marquette that allows students to earn college credit — and even associate degrees — while still in high school.
A three-sport standout for the Crusaders, Kowalski carried 19 college hours in the spring while maintaining a 4.32 GPA on a weighted 4.0 scale, according to a press release from IVCC.
He has inspired otherMarquettestudents to follow his lead, according to the press release. Last semester, eight juniors and 14 sophomores participated in Running Start. With oversight by Marquette Acacemy and IVCC counselors, students may take classes at Marquette Academy, IVCC’s Ottawa Center and Oglesby campus.
WhileMarquettecurrently is the only school to offer Running Start, 17 other district high schools offer IVCC’s dual-credit option. In 2011-12, 1,184 students enrolled in dual credit and 1,154 participated in 2012-13. Students pay half the tuition rate and — other than a one-time $5 registration charge — no fees.
Kowalski has earned the admiration of Marquette principal Brooke Rick.
“It’s so impressive that a student can complete the program, let alone a student who is as active as Elliot,” Rick said in the press release. “He’s definitely laying the groundwork for a lot of students, but he sets a really high bar too.”
Rick said she had Kowalski speak to the Running Start underclassmen. He advised them to manage their time wisely, have supportive parents, and added with a laugh, “Don’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend. There just isn’t time for that.”
The son of Andrea and Derek Kowalski will play tight end at NCAA Division III North Central College in Naperville next fall. He plans to major in business accounting and could be sitting for the CPA exam at 20 years old.
“What an over-achiever,” said Rick. “Elliot’s a remarkable young man and role model.”
IVCC President Jerry Corcoran, who handed Kowalski his IVCC diploma at Marquette’s May 26 commencement, agreed.
“When we established Running Start with Marquette in 2010, we envisioned that well-organized, serious students would flourish in the program,” Corcoran said. “Elliot exceeded our highest expectations.”