When Christian Ruiz crossed the stage at the Lorain County Community College Commencement ceremony on May 13, 2023, he was the first person in his family to earn a college degree. What’s more, he did so at the same time he graduated from high school.

Ruiz, 18 from Lorain, graduated from Lorain County Early College High School, a combined high school and college experience that allows students to earn a high school diploma and college associate degree at the same time. All courses are taught on the LCCC campus tuition free.

Completing high school and an associate of arts degree at the same time was challenging, but Ruiz said support from the program helped him along the way.

“LCCC provided a comfortable environment that introduced me to college,” Ruiz said.

The study skills and time management techniques he learned helped him to complete the program while also participating in varsity athletics through Lorain High School. Ruiz played basketball and ran cross country, and also holds a part-time job at McDonald’s.

Ruiz will continue his education by transferring to the University of Northwestern Ohio where he will study high performance technology. The program prepares graduates to work in the field of high-performance motorsports, including roles on race teams and in performance machine shops. He was also selected to play on the school’s basketball team.

As Ruiz reflects on this time at Early College, he sums it up with one word: epic.

“I am ready to begin the next chapter and see what I can accomplish,” Ruiz said.

Learn more about Lorain County Early College High School at www.lorainccc.edu/earlycollege.