Countless students all over America are celebrating their high school graduation this month.
But there’s one school in particular the advertising world should have its eye on: Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA).
The 4A’s-backed program saw its first graduating class on Friday June 22 after launching in 2014 through a partnership with the City University of New York. It’s the first P-Tech high school of its kind in the U.S. that offers access to explore careers in advertising, media and creative technology, and where students can earn a free Associates Degree upon completion of the program.
"I loved the internship I had with the 4A’s," said Tamara Nunez, who’s headed to NYU with a full scholarship and worked with the 4A's last summer to create content for its social media channel, among other duties. "Having the opportunity of these internships now will give me a fair idea of where I want to be in my life."
Graduate Shawn Booker added: "In tenth grade we were already taking college classes, and by senior year pretty much all of our classes were college classes. Right now I have over 30 credits, so when I go to college I’ll be starting in my sophomore year already."
Seniors spent their time taking up to three college classes at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). In addition to media studies, MECA offers its students dedicated SAT and college application support, and courses on financial aid and financial literacy.
MECA's class of 2018 boasts a 96 percent graduation rate, beating New York City's 2017 74.3 per cent average and making it the city's highest on record.
This year's students will head to colleges including NYU, Middlebury, Fordham University, University of Virginia and University of Buffalo in the fall.
Three-fifths of them will graduate with 15 or more college credits.
"We started this journey five years ago with the 4As," said Dr Matt Tossman, MECA principal. "We thought, 'we can do better' -- we can reimagine high school. We wanted to do something different and something special here. The students and families took a leap of faith to do just that.
"We’ve moved away from simulation in classes, we have real clients working on real work, going out into the real world. They have met the expectations time and time again with incredible, personal achievements.
"What’s even more touching to me is that they helped us build a new school. They’ve been partners since the day they stepped in the building with us in designing what the opintium educational experience is going to look like. MECA is their legacy to us."
Keesha Jean-Baptiste, SVP of talent engagement and inclusion at the 4A's, added: "We know the industry has a bit of an awareness problem in that young people don’t quite understand the industry enough and aren’t exposed to it enough to consider it a viable career option when they start thinking about their professional future.
"MECA is really the blueprint for changing that and making the industry more visible to young, bright multicultural talent. It’s a direct solution to bringing more diverse talent into the industry and we are so proud to send our first group of MECA students out into the world."