dylan simon patti

KRIM’s Randy Roberson, left, talks with Payson High School Principal Jeff Simon, center, and Dylan Michels, right, about the Aspire Arizona Foundation and its benefits to PHS students.

Aspire Arizona Foundation board member Patti Beauchamp and Payson High School Principal Jeff Simon recently sat down with KRIM DJ Randy Roberson to discuss Aspire Arizona Foundation’s dual-credit program.

In tandem with getting high school credits, high school students also earn college credits at the same time for general education classes. It is a project that is near and dear to Beauchamp’s heart.

Last year the program had 141 students, and has had 359 students participate since its inception in 2016, earning over 4,000 credits.

Over $200,000 in tuition has been paid for the students to attend this program, a lot of it through the generosity of town residents.

From the perspective of the high school they are setting kids up for success. Kids are graduating high school having completed their first year of college or more. A few extremely hard working students have even knocked out an entire two-year associate degree.

“It’s changing the academic culture on campus,” said Simon.

One of the students that has benefited from the Aspire Arizona Foundation’s dual-credit program is Dylan Michels. He is the son of Dr. Alan Michels. Standing well over 6 feet tall, he seems three times taller since the last time DJ Randy Roberson saw him, Roberson laughed. Dylan is a 2020 graduate of Payson High School. He loved the dual-credit program and got a lot of his prerequisites out of the way. He will now be a theology major and is going straight into his major’s classes at Colorado Christian University heading off in a week. Dylan’s ultimate goal is to be a pastor or in youth ministry, but he has decided to let God tell him what to do.

He will also be playing club volleyball in college. He started taking dual-credit classes in his sophomore year of high school. Junior year of high school is a tough year anyway, Dylan admits, so he was going into it expecting it to be tough.

The program is a bridge that gets kids from high school to college. Now that they are taking those basic classes, they are getting a flavor of college.

It saves money. How much? An average of $12,000 is saved a year per student.

It saves time. How much? A lot of students are doing dual majors and finishing them within a four-year period. These students are maximizing their college time.

In doing research for a grant, Beauchamp came across an Arizona Board of Regents study that found that students with a four-year degree earned a median wage of $51,000 a year or $22,000 more than workers with just a high school diploma — that’s a whopping extra $880,000 over a 40-year career.

“That is the kind of difference our community makes for our students,” said Beauchamp.

Parents who would like to get their students into the dual-credit program should contact the high school guidance counselor to initiate the process.

“I’m floored by the opportunities our kids have,” Simon shared.

“We are blessed with a great community.”

“And right here in little old Payson,” added Roberson.

Simon had no idea what to expect going from high school into college. This program bridges the gap and helps kids to prepare and to succeed. These kids with maybe a similar background to Simon who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity now have an opportunity at a college education because of this program.

Simon reminded everyone that the Aspire Arizona Foundation is always accepting donations from the community.

Good things are going on in the community for the area’s young people. Fundraising is a key part of that, Beauchamp explained the more people who understand the impact it has on students like Dylan the more people will want to participate.

All donations are tax deductible as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All money donated to the Aspire Arizona Foundation, goes directly into funding dual-credit tuition.

All the people who work for the Foundation do so in a volunteer capacity because they are passionate about the fact that education elevates everyone, as the Foundation’s mission statement declares.

The MHA Foundation covers all administration costs and overhead expenses so the students benefit from all donations. The MHA Foundation also matches tuition for students, and assists in staffing for fundraisers.

“The bottom line is, without MHA’s ongoing support, we couldn’t do this,” Beauchamp said.

To learn more about the Aspire Arizona Foundation’s dual-credit program, or donating to the Aspire Arizona Foundation, call 928-472-2588 or visit the website at aspirearizona.org.

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