Lakewood High School senior earns CCTC degree alongside diploma

Winter Dorsey, current high school senior at Lakewood High School, was looking for a way to challenge herself as she prepares to attend college. She wanted to step outside of her comfort zone and Central Carolina Technical College’s Early College program allowed her to do just that.

Early College students attend Central Carolina and high school at the same time. By enrolling in the University Transfer track of the Early College program, motivated students like Dorsey can obtain an associate degree alongside their high school diploma, which allows them to get a taste of college in high school.

“I’m getting the college experience,” Dorsey said. “With Early College, you actually get to go to campus, sit in the classroom environment and experience it that way.”

Being on CCTC’s campus allowed her to have an easy transition to college life, while still being ahead of the curve for her college applications. Dorsey could see first-hand the differences between college and high school and the discipline it takes to be a college student. 

“I went from taking small classes in high school and breezing through it until I got to Central Carolina and had to do a summer semester,” Dorsey said. “Those classes, at first, were kind of hard. In college you have to reach out and take that initiative and say, ‘I’m struggling on this part. Is there any way I can get some more help?’” 

Dorsey discovered conquering time management is necessary for success in a college setting. 

“Central Carolina really taught me to manage my time,” Dorsey said. “I know Wednesday to Friday is when most of my work has to be turned in. On Sundays I have to turn in my discussion posts. College made me more accountable for certain things, and it really pushed me to work toward the bigger goal, which is my degree.”

Once she was acquainted with CCTC, she easily found her place. She enjoyed all of her college classes, with Biology being one of her favorites. Dorsey found the subject challenging, but rose to the occasion and was able to develop a connection with her professor, something she found completely different than her high school experience. 

“My favorite class had to be Biology 101 with Mrs. (Tanya) Quiroz,” Dorsey said. “She made it so much fun, especially with the hands-on labs. She worked with us. She understood that some of the students were Early College students. She couldn’t make the work easier, but she made the class enjoyable.”

Dorsey is proud of being part of the Early College program and encourages other high school students to jump in and do it, despite the sacrifices that might come with the decision.

“Sometimes you might not be able to go to every game or every party because you have your college work to do,” Dorsey said. “But once you get going you don’t really think about how much work it is.”

Dorsey is the first Lakewood High School student to complete the Early College program at CCTC. After graduating from Central Carolina and Lakewood, Dorsey will use her Associate in Science degree to attend a four-year school in South Carolina or Georgia. She plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. 

CCTC offers Early College programs to high school students in Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Sumter counties, in coordination with high schools, private schools, homeschool associations and charter schools. Students have the option to obtain an Associate in Science or Arts with the University Transfer track or a Workforce Certification with the Career Technical Education track. For more information on these programs, prospective students can contact CCTC’s Dual Enrollment department at 803-778-7828 or email the Dual Enrollment department at