Stop the Presses – ACE Students Experience Success!


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Thursday, August 24, 2023
ACE student Alyssa Bickle smiles for the camera. text: Where Are They Now - Meet Alyssa Bickle

ACE Classes Set Student on Path to Newsworthy Career

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

When Alyssa Bickle attended a presentation about the Achieving a College Education (ACE) program at her high school, the budding journalist put on her inquisitive hat. She took notes, fact-checked and asked questions about how ACE classes would help her get ahead in her college pursuits.

“I thought I might try to apply and see if I got in, and I did,” Bickle said. “ACE seemed like a good opportunity that would challenge me and would benefit me greatly down the road.”

ACE is a nationally recognized program offered by the Maricopa Community Colleges that provides accessible higher education to local communities. The program serves more than 100 area high schools and helps high school students earn a college degree. 

ACE students are concurrently enrolled in high school and college courses. They can earn up to 24 college credits by the time they graduate from high school. Students can continue with Maricopa Community Colleges or transfer to a university to earn their bachelor’s degree. 

When selecting her ACE classes, Bickle, who is originally from Mesa, chose to work with Rio Salado College for the convenience and flexibility of online learning.

“The online aspect of the program appealed to me,” Bickle said. “I was a cross country and track athlete and didn't have time on the weekends to attend classes in-person.”

When she graduated from high school in 2020, Bickle transferred her credits to Arizona State University (ASU), where they were applied toward her bachelor’s degree programs.

“I just finished up my third year at ASU, where I am pursuing bachelor’s degrees in journalism and mass communication and political science, and a minor in urban and metropolitan studies,” Bickle said. 

“Originally, I planned to graduate early due to the number of transfer credits I brought to ASU,” she said. “But I decided I wanted to stay a full four years to gain as many opportunities and experiences as possible and graduate with two bachelor's degrees.”

In January of this year, Bickle began an internship with the Copper Courier, a civic media newsroom that delivers most of their reporting online.

“I have had a great time in the few months I have been an intern and learned a lot from the editors I report to,” Bickle said. “I really love the flexibility I have with what stories I can pitch and write.”

So far, Bickle has written featured articles on a variety of topics including a same sex couple from Chandler who have adopted seven children, a $15M investment from the State of Arizona that will help low-income students access college, and six metro Phoenix dive bars that are worth checking out.

Long-term, Bickle has found her professional calling.

“I hope to stay in digital journalism for the majority of my career,” Bickle said. “I would like to stay in Arizona for the start of my career and stay in local news for the next 7-10 years to cover community issues. But, as it is a struggling industry, I will be happy with wherever any opportunities take me.”

Bickle is happy she learned about the ACE program and thankful that her Rio Salado classes gave her a taste of the college experience.

“I would recommend Rio to future students because it can give you a head start on college, even if you don't want to graduate college early,” Bickle said. “You can get a feel for the different difficulty level that college classes have, and end up more successful overall.”


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