Utica Community Schools graduate starts college as a junior

By: Kara Szymanski | C&G Newspapers | Published October 28, 2021

 Utica Community Schools 2021 graduate Will Jenkins enrolled at Oakland University with enough college credit from his high school years to make him a second-semester sophomore who will finish his first year with junior status.

Utica Community Schools 2021 graduate Will Jenkins enrolled at Oakland University with enough college credit from his high school years to make him a second-semester sophomore who will finish his first year with junior status.

Photo provided by Tim McAvoy

STERLING HEIGHTS/UTICA — Utica Community Schools graduate Will Jenkins got ahead in his college studies early on, as a high school freshman.

As a 2021 UCS graduate, Jenkins started Oakland University as a second-semester sophomore and will finish the year with junior status after being able to start college early as a high schooler.

Jenkins had 51 college credits and a large portfolio of activities when he graduated this year from the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies in Sterling Heights. He earned 16 credits from Advanced Placement courses and received 35 credits from his International Baccalaureate exams at the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies.

“This honor means a lot to me, since taking AP classes to work towards college is something that I have been doing since my freshman year of high school. It means a lot to be in a position where I have a lot more control and flexibility in my college education than many of my peers do,” Jenkins said in an email interview.

Jenkins is currently taking 16 credits at Oakland University. Add those to the 51 credits he entered with, and he will be a junior in his first year at the university.

“My UCS background has been fundamental to helping me get to this point, in a way that other districts simply do not allow. In elementary school, I was allowed to take above-level math classes, preparing me to take AP classes and earn credit during my freshman year of high school. Furthermore, most of my credits come from the IB tests that I took from being in the Utica Academy for International Studies, which I would not have had such an opportunity in any other district,” he said.

During his years in UCS, Jenkins attended Messmore Elementary, Eppler Junior High School and the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies.

Tiffany McNair, a Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies math teacher, said Jenkins has a special ability in math.

”Will’s aptitude in math is beyond his natural gifts. He has an incredible mind that takes theoretical math beyond anything discussed in the normal course of class. His ability constantly elevated those around him,” she said via email.

Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies science teacher Bryan Battaglia said Jenkins makes learning better for all involved.

“He was always quick with a joke or a question that pushed conversation deeper with his unique perspective of mathematics. I’m not at all surprised to see his success in the next level,” he said in an email.

Beyond high school academics, Jenkins was a board member for the National Honor Society, co-founded and helped run the Coding Club for junior high school students, and was a four-year member of the Utica High School cross country and track teams.

Jenkins’ awards include being named to the Macomb County Academic Dream team, receiving the math department freshman chair award at the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies, receiving the math department and science department awards during his senior year, and being named to the All-Academic All-County team for track.

He has some advice for those looking to get ahead.

“My advice to students looking at advanced programs is to give it a shot but keep things manageable. Going from taking normal classes to multiple AP classes in a single year is a huge jump, and even just taking a few AP classes can be a huge help through college. This achievement drastically increases what I can do with my college career, and it will continue on to the rest of my life, as well,” he said.

While other students in this situation might decide to graduate after just three years, he has decided to instead use the extra credits to work for a double major, in both Computer Science and Applied Statistics.

“Hopefully, this will widen the range of jobs that I will be qualified for once I graduate from Oakland University,” he said.