JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – For the first time in JPS history, 19 students will walk across the stage this weekend graduating with a high school diploma and college credits.

A business entrepreneur, a physician and a career in the sciences are just some of the goals that the Jackson Tougaloo Early College High School Program has prepared students for.

With the help of teachers and college professors, JPS high schoolers were able to take coursework at Tougaloo.

“The top two feelings I’ve been having for the longest would probably be excitement and overwhelmed because it’s been a long time coming,” said senior, Mauricsa Woods.

Their journeys to higher education started in 9th grade in 2018. Not knowing what to expect they boldly accepted the challenge of balancing high school and college courses.

“It taught me maturity. We have to grow up to learn and deal with these college courses but not only in the 9th grade we’re taking major courses. We have to get done with these major high school course by the end of our 10th grade year to then just go right into being a college student so it’s definitely has to teach you a certain level of maturity just to be able to do that,” said senior, Carolin Nichols.

“Coming in and not knowing a lot of people it was putting me in a position where I had to step into my own and I felt like that has also guided me into the person I am today,” said Woods.

Some of the courses taken by students at the Liberal Arts college include marketing, business finance, world literature, public health, and biology. And today, they have their careers figured out.

“I have finally made my college decision and I’m going to attend Xavier University in Louisiana and I will be majoring in biology-pre-med,” said senior, Jahliyah Readus.

“I am a very creative person and a creative writer. neither one of them will lead into my career paths I’m going into the medical field but they’ll definitely help me as far as my communication skills and my people skills go,” said Nichols.

“I am a business owner. I am the owner of Tootie Trendy Treats and I will be attending Tougaloo College to pursue that. I will be graduating with my bachelor’s in 2023,” said Woods.

Some students will earn an associates degree or have up to two years of credits towards a bachelor’s degree on graduation day. The ceremony will be held Sunday, May 1 at 10 a.m. at the Jackson Convention Center.