Diploma to Degree: Jump Into Business

Klamath County schools enter into academic pathway partnership with Oregon Tech

Starting next fall, Klamath County high school students interested in business will be able to take dual high school and college credit courses and participate in an accelerated pathway to a college degree. A memorandum of understanding for a new program, Diploma to Degree: Jump Into Business, was signed Wednesday by Oregon Tech President Dr. Nagi Naganathan, Klamath County School District Superintendent Glen Szymoniak, and Klamath Falls City Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Hillyer.

Oregon Tech President Dr. Nagi Naganathan, Klamath County School District Superintendent Glen Szymoniak sign a memorandum of understanding for a new business academic pathway.

Students who are active in FBLA and DECA business clubs and maintain a high school GPA of 3.0 can apply for the program through their high school counselor or business teacher. After graduation, Jump Into Business students who enroll in a business program at Oregon Tech will receive a seamless transfer of course credit and full tuition discounts on their first term and the last term towards their degree. Dual credit courses taken as part of the program would also transfer to other Oregon colleges and universities.

Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District, said the opportunities the partnership provides not only allow students to experience success at college-level work in high school but also make college more affordable through dual credit transfers and tuition discounts.

“These partnerships to get students started on the college path are so important,” he said. “Students who take dual credit courses in high school understand very early that they can do it, that they can take college courses and be successful. It also lets students get their boots on campus, to see what campus life is like. They see that college isn’t just four more years of school, it’s a wonderful experience for them.”

Glen Szymoniak, Klamath County School District Superintendent

Luke Ovgard, Henley High School business teacher and DECA advisor, said the partnership will benefit his students and make them aware of the opportunities available at Oregon Tech.

“This program gives them realistic steps to take towards a rewarding career in business,” he said. “Like all CTE
(career technical education) programs, it assigns economic value and job skills to coursework, which can be essential for students struggling to see the value in academia. It not only keeps them enrolled but actually engaged with the prospect of someday paying their bills with the skills they learn in the business classroom.”

Luke Ovgard, Henley High School Business Teacher and DECA Advisor

Jump Into Business will be the second academic pathway partnership between the Klamath County School District and Oregon Tech. The district’s STEM&M program at Mazama offers dual credits and academic pathways in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine.

Business teachers: Sergio Cisneros and Benji Henslee of Mazama High School, Luke Ovgard of Henley HIgh School, and Nat Ellis of Klamath Union High School pose for a photo Wednesday after the MOU signing ceremony at Oregon Tech.

Professor Sandra Bailey, faculty lead from Oregon Tech’s Business Management Department, was pleased that the partnership was designed with a focus on access and opportunity for local students.

“The ultimate goal of the program is to promote a business foundation, leadership skills, academic preparation, and successful transition into college regardless of the pathway high school graduates take to the degree of their choice,” she said.

Professor Sandra Bailey, Oregon Institute of Technology

According to Oregon Tech, the goals of this partnership are to:

  • Reduce barriers for students as they work towards and achieve their educational goals
  • Create new opportunities for students to access accelerated learning through dual credit courses at their high schools and on the Oregon Tech campus
  • Provide seamless coursework from high school to a bachelor’s in the field of Business at Oregon Tech
  • Improve student success, retention, time to degree and degree attainment

Oregon Tech business and technology programs include accounting, business management, health informatics, healthcare management, information technology, operations management, marketing, and technology & management. A new cybersecurity program also is expected to launch within the next year.

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