A Virtual Learning Achievement

Students from countries as far away as Colombia, Spain, and Sweden accepted newly minted degrees at the University of Miami Global Academy’s fourth high school graduation.

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 06, 2014) — With students hailing from the Bahamas, Colombia, Spain, and Sweden, the University of Miami Global Academy (UMGA) graduated the fourth class in its history on Friday, awarding diplomas forged in an online environment in which technology such as Skype and video conferencing helped bridge the great distances between students and instructors.

For many of the 12 graduating seniors, the ceremony, held in UM’s Newman Alumni Center, marked the first time they actually met their classmates after taking online courses in biology, chemistry, and English for so long. But that didn’t cause class valedictorian Jenny Cooke to be shy. The pop-country music writer and singer, who has appeared on the Disney Channel, Fox, and Nickelodeon, urged her fellow graduates to embrace all that is diverse.

“It’s a beautiful thing to be different,” Cooke said shortly before the ceremony, noting the distinctiveness of the UMGA online high school.

Based out of the University of Miami’s Division of Continuing and International Education, UMGA serves grades 9-12 with a core curriculum, AP courses, foreign language selections, and diverse electives. “It’s really a great school for students who have a passion in life—whether it be for performing arts, sports, or even for knowledge—and would be held back by a traditional curriculum that doesn’t allow them to move at their own pace,” said Craig Wilson, UMGA’s head of school.

Students, explained Wilson, are drawn to UMGA’s “one-to-one communication and instruction.”

Cooke, who will be attending UM next fall, agreed. “I’m a discussion person,” she said. “I learn from having in-depth conversations, and each of my professors at UMGA were fantastic in that regard, talking with me about whatever subject matter I was struggling with.”

Other seniors in Cooke’s graduating class included a competitive swimmer, tennis player, and equestrian, making it one of UMGA’s most diverse classes ever, said principal Gisela Delgado. “They’re a high-achieving group,” she said. Nearly 40 percent of the class will be attending top-rated universities, she pointed out.

The graduation ceremony was the highlight of a week of activities that included a barbecue for the students and their family members and an academic achievements banquet. Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, founder of the Good Government Initiative at UM, delivered the graduation address.


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