CINCINNATI — When Rakeem Wright began studying surveying at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, he assumed one day down the road he'd end up at the University of Cincinnati to finish out his four-year degree.
Little did he know, four years later, he'd wind up part of the first class of students to graduate from Cincinnati State with a bachelor's degree.
"It was a blessing for me, just how it worked out," Wright said. "It’s been really nice. I mean I’ve had the same professors for all four years I’ve been here. So I really go to know them.”
Wright is one of 21 Cincinnati State students who will graduate with four-year degrees this spring. The school in 2018 was one of three community colleges in Ohio approved to begin offering four-year degrees.
Every student set to graduate already has a job lined up after graduation.
Wright began co-oping with Abercrombie and Associates, a Cincinnati-based civil engineering and surveying firm, three years ago. Today, he runs his own crew as he finishes his degree.
"They've been great to me," he said.
Abercrombie and Associates president Steve Cahill called Cincinnati State's new bachelor's program a "game-changer" for his industry.
"Our profession has been longing for this for quite some time," he said. "Our company has literally built our survey department through the programming here at Cincinnati State."
It's a game-changer because it means students like Wright won't have to transfer to a different school in order to complete their education, something program chair of land surveying at Cincinnati State Carol Morman said often takes students out of state.
"This is something that our workforce has been asking for for 25 years," she said. "We were sending our students to Northern Kentucky to finish their education."
Survey program student Cara Morman said she was relieved to learn she wouldn't have to transfer to finish her bachelor's.
"I was like, I don’t want to deal with that whatsoever," she said. "So the fact that I could stay here, didn’t have to jump through any extra hoops, and they already knew what I needed, what I already had, and I had the same teachers made it ten times simpler."
For Wright, who has spent the last two years working full-time while pursuing his degree, the four-year program combined with the work-experience opportunities provided by the college sealed the deal for him to remain at Cincinnati State through his degree's completion.
"This can be done. It's capable of providing a good bachelor's degree program," he said. "And that's what the employers are looking for is a student like me and my peers who are coming out of here being able to jump right into the industry."