Getting a Head Start

​COTC's Knox Initiative gave one Ohio State Newark student the academic direction and preparation she needed for success.

NEWARK, Ohio, April 29, 2019 – With her parents' encouragement and guidance, Alani Copas enrolled in the Knox Initiative, a partnership between Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) and Knox County high schools that is free to students. A special program with College Credit Plus, the initiative allows participating students to earn credits toward both a high school diploma and an Associate of Science from COTC.

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In 2018, Copas graduated with her associate degree from COTC before receiving her high school diploma from Mount Vernon High School. Copas participated in the Knox Initiative her junior and senior year taking 15-18 college credit hours per semester to complete the degree requirements while simultaneously taking classes at her high school to fulfill remaining credits for her high school diploma. While enrolled at COTC, she found enjoyment in the classes, making friends and building relationships with her professors.

"Try it even if you think it is too hard for you. I took my first class during the summer of 2016 and found the classes to be enjoyable," said Copas on why students should participate in the initiative. "Within the program, I made a lot of friends. My professors would talk to me a lot before and after classes. It was my microbiology professor who led me to become a microbiology major."

Copas was admitted into The Ohio State University's Columbus campus, but she realized she was not ready for a large campus environment quite yet. Instead, she found herself returning to a familiar place, which she knew would be a perfect fit to prepare her for the transition to Columbus. Copas opted to attend The Ohio State University at Newark, co-located with COTC's Newark campus, to continue completing courses for her bachelor's degree in biology. After graduating, she plans to pursue a career in research.  Copas takes the lessons learned from the Knox Initiative and continually applies them in her academic career.

"Through the initiative, I learned that you need to communicate and understand time management. If you talk to your professors, they want to help you," said Copas. "I learned to utilize time between classes, and the initiative helped me feel more prepared."

This May, Copas will travel to Paris, France on an education abroad trip with fellow Ohio State students. The Global May Paris program explores the social, cultural and geographical history of the city from the Middle Ages to the present through the study of a number of key events and places. Copas has been working with Assistant Professor Lucille Toth, Ph.D., who has been mentoring her for the trip by teaching her about the culture and history of Paris. After returning home, Copas will prepare to transition to Columbus for the fall.

"I've really enjoyed my time at Ohio State Newark. I didn't want to start here," she confessed. "But I was closer to home, and the class sizes are smaller. It was the better option for me," Copas said. 

Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that's challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State's more than 200 majors.