Casa Grande’s Jordan Brunner finishes associate degree days before earning high school diploma

By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – Thanks to outreach programs such as Early College and First Step, Pinal County high school students have the opportunity to take college-level courses at Central Arizona College before they even receive their high school diploma.

Many students have made the most of this opportunity over the years, sometimes earning an associate degree and walking across CAC’s stage a few weeks before they complete high school.

Casa Verde High School’s Jordan Brunner is one such student. In May, Brunner was among the latest group of Pinal County high school students who earned their associate degrees not long before or after turning 18 years of age.

Obviously mature enough to handle college-level courses, Brunner appreciates the studiousness required and the convenience that comes with such an opportunity.

“A number of things drew me to Early College,” he said. “The fact that my education would be paid for my first two years (of college) and the challenge of actually completing an associate degree while still in high school because high school didn’t always challenge me as much as I wanted it to.”

High school students accepted into the Early College program can enroll in classes during the fall and spring semesters. They receive a tuition scholarship from CAC, covering regular in-state tuition and fees.

Students are responsible for the purchase of textbooks, class materials, and are responsible for their own transportation to and from campus.

To be eligible for the program, a student needs to be a Pinal County resident and a current high school student who has completed their sophomore or junior year.

First Step at CAC is a summer program for Pinal County high school students completing their sophomore, junior or senior year of high school. Students who enroll in this program may register for up to seven college credits and receive a tuition waiver.

In his first semester attending CAC, Brunner found the courses at the college to be challenging but not overly-difficult. Not only was he fascinated with the multiple instruction modalities offered (face-to-face, online and hybrid), but he also was impressed by the style of instruction at the college level compared to high school.

“The instructors were really friendly but at the same time they required that you respect them in their classrooms and that you work really hard to get their coursework completed. So, it introduced me to a greater work ethic than I had in high school.”

Now that Brunner is virtually halfway to earning a bachelor’s degree, he plans to transfer to Arizona State University to study political science, a program of study he hopes carries him to a career in public service, perhaps as an elected official or civil servant, maybe even as a lawyer.

“My immediate plans are not final right now but I know that I want to serve the community and the public in a good way.”

If he remains as driven by challenges as he has to this point in his life, there is no reason why he can’t achieve his dreams.

Students interested in taking advantage of either the Early College or First Step programs must obtain a signature of approval from their high school guidance counselor before registering. For more information about Early College or First Step program opportunities please email or

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814