Three students appeared before the St. Paul school board on Tuesday to tout the benefits of earning college credits while in high school.

Khalique Rogers, a senior at Gordon Parks High School, said that he will earn three college credits and two high school credits this school year by taking a CIS (College in the Schools) public speaking class now being offered at Gordon Parks through the University of Minnesota.

Simply knowing that he was on track to take such a course inspired him to take on a major challenge this past summer, he said. He had been told in 2012-13 that he tested into college-level English, and learned then, too, about a program that helps inner-city juniors land internships with Fortune 500 companies.

Out of the 750 students who were interviewed, he said, he was one of 250 chosen, qualifying Rogers for an eight-week summer training program that ran for four hours a day, five days a week.

"Believe me, it wasn't easy," he told board members. "I learned IT skills and professional skills taught at a college level. It was tough but I made it through and landed a one-year internship at Securian Financial."

Rogers' story appears in a Center for School Change booklet, "Get A Jump Start On Your Future!"

So, too, does the testimonial of Jennifer Reyes Gomez, who attended AGAPE High School, a district secondary program for students who are pregnant or parenting. She told board members how she had signed up for a PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) course to earn credits toward a degree, and to help spare her family some of the costs of a college education.

"When my parents heard the news that I had signed up for PSEO classes, they told me how proud they were of me and how brave I am to take the risk," she said. "I am proud to be the first one in my family to attend college."

The jump-start booklets are available in print form at the St. Paul and Hennepin County libraries, and are the product of a collaboration between charter and district public schools. Educators at six St. Paul schools have worked to expand the number of students who enroll in dual (high school/college) credit courses, Joe Nathan, director of the Center for School Change, said Wednesday.

The current edition of the booklet is the fourth in a series that has been funded by the Bremer, Frey, Morning, St. Paul and Travelers foundations, and by the state Department of Education.

To learn more about the courses online, go to: