Felix is part of growing trend of students who earn college degree while in high school
As a youngster, Renaud Felix, Jr., of Greenacres, seemed to determine his life’s purpose early on. Supported and guided by his parents, Renaud and Darline, he asked questions and held conversations with peers and adults alike, even before he was accepted into the Math, Science and Engineering Choice program at Suncoast Community High School.
By the time Felix was a sophomore at Suncoast, he had applied and been accepted in Palm Beach State College’s dual enrollment program, where he could earn college credits while in high school. Now, Felix is graduating from PBSC with an Associate in Arts degree before he graduates from high school.
“I wanted a career in the medical field,” Felix said, and so he volunteered at Wellington Regional Medical Center. “The first year as a volunteer I did office work, and then I was on a medical floor where I had the opportunity to interact with patients. I was interested in surgery, so I researched different specialties and became fascinated with physiology and the cardiovascular system.”
With both high school and college diplomas in hand, Felix hopes to secure a medical internship next summer. He expects to earn a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering on his way to becoming a vascular surgeon.
The advantages of dual enrollment in college while completing high school were clear to him.
“A lot of college courses can be taken now in high school for free,” Felix said. “It’s kind of tough, balancing school, extracurricular activities and family obligations, but in the end, it was all worth it.”
Felix admits that there is friendly competition among his peers. “Yes, we are competitive, but we bring each other along and raise each other up,” he said. Felix likes music, has played alto saxophone for five years, and is in both the marching and concert bands at Suncoast Community High School. “It’s a skill I want to keep.”
A math instructor at Dreyfoos School of the Arts and PBSC—and formerly at Suncoast for 11 years—Monica Russell recalled teaching Felix calculus courses during his sophomore and junior years in high school. Like most of the dual-enrolled students, Russell noted that he had a serious work ethic and drive, perseverance, and problem-solving skills. “RJ, as we called him, was one of the most likable students,” Russell said. “The students worked mostly in groups and a lot of his peers turned toward him. He was patient, kind, smart and dependable.”
Russell encourages students to begin considering dual enrollment as early as their sophomore year. “While it is not for everybody, it is an honor and a privilege,” she said. “Students in Palm Beach County are fortunate to live in an area where they have this opportunity.”
The Dual Enrollment program at Palm Beach State College allows eligible students to take classes that meet their high school graduation and Associate in Arts transfer degree requirements. Currently, there are about 3,000 students enrolled from 54 public, charter, and private schools around Palm Beach County. On average, the program graduates about 65 students each academic year with their A.A. before graduating high school.