BCECHS’s Cota enjoying high-school, college life|Chocowinity teen on the fast track to double degrees

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

Like other students at Beaufort County Early College High School, freshman Mia Cota is on the fast track to a high-school education while also earning college credits.
BCECHS, located on the campus of Beaufort County Community College, features a program that allows students to earn their high-school diplomas and a college associate’s degrees in five years. And that college degree is tuition-free.
Cota is hoping to accomplish both goals in just four years.
The 14-year-old daughter of Arthur and Christine Cota of Chocowinity, Cota is busy in her first semester at BCECHS, where she is currently taking Algebra II, English I, world history and earth-and-environmental-science classes.
She’s planning on enrolling in her first college class next semester, something for which Principal Todd Blumenreich says she’s ready. He commended Cota, a new student at the school.
“She is always, and I mean always, respectful and responsible,” Blumenreich said. “All the teachers here are very pleased with her progress, commenting on her maturity and attention to detail. She is truly an asset to BCECHS.”
Cota was an honor-roll student at Chocowinity Middle School last year, where she was active in the band program. She and her family moved to Beaufort County from Louisiana in 2007.
Her day begins when she boards a school bus to Southside High School, where she and fellow BCECHS students from the south side of the Pamlico River are met by another bus, which transports them to the BCCC campus. Classes start at 9 a.m. and are dismissed at 3 p.m.
Cota said she is enjoying life as a high-school student.
“I really like it here,” she said of BCECHS. “It’s more challenging than school has been before. We work at a faster pace, definitely. The teachers are really good at their jobs.”
What does Cota enjoy most about her school?
“Pretty much everybody is here to learn,” she said with a smile.
Arthur Cota said he is grateful for the opportunity his daughter has been given, and he’s proud of her accomplishments.
“Mia has never had anything but an A in her life,” he said. “She sees this as a way to challenge herself and have the benefit of college. It’s just a bigger challenge.”
The BCECHS experience doesn’t offer extracurricular activities like football and homecoming, but that is outweighed by something else it lacks, Arthur Cota said.
“She likes not having the school drama that might be associated with a normal high school,” he said. “Everyone seems motivated and they are trying to learn as much as they can, as quickly as they can.”
The transition from middle school to high school has been pretty much effortless for Cota, even with midterm exams looming.
“So far it’s not been that different for me,” she said. “I haven’t had any problems, so far. You are expected to act at a more mature level, and if you do, then you’re given more freedom.”
When not busy with school, Cota spends time with her three dogs and four cats. She also enjoys boating and swimming. And she often has her nose in a book.
“A lot of the time I read,” she said. I’m an avid reader. I love fiction and I like to read a lot of stuff about science.”
Although she’s barely into her teenage years, Cota is looking ahead to life after high school.
“I do plan on going to a four-year college and then into the medical field,” she said. “I want to become a medical doctor, but I haven’t decided on a specialty.”
Cota added she is hoping to join the teen-volunteers program at Beaufort County Medical Center next summer, and two local physicians have expressed interest in having her volunteer at their offices.
She is weighing the benefits of several schools, including East Carolina University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We’re hoping for ECU,” Arthur Cota said. “We want to keep her close.”
Meanwhile, the freshman offered a bit of advice to other students who are interested in the early college experience.
“My advice would be probably to be sure you are ready for the challenge,” she said. “You have to be able to keep up with the work. It is a commitment.”
::SIDEBAR copy::
All about Mia Cota …
Grade and school: freshman, Beaufort County Early College High School.
Birthday: Jan. 30.
Favorite subject: “Science, definitely.”
Favorite book: “A Brief History of Time.”
Favorite movie: “The Matrix.”
Favorite TV show: “House.”
Dream job: “A doctor, or something with astronomy.”
If she could spend one day with anyone in history, it would be: “Galileo. I would love to know how they thought about science during that time.”
Favorite food: Southern Louisiana gumbo.
Favorite entertainer: Jackson Rathbone.
Dream vacation: “I think it would be cool to go to Russia.”