The college experience has been anything but typical for biology student Holly Perretta. The Fort Collins local will be graduating from the College of Natural Sciences this spring with a degree in biological science after just two years, thanks to the Colorado Early College program.
Colorado Early Colleges Fort Collins is a tuition-free, open enrollment public charter high school that gives students an earlier start to college. Perretta was able to earn her associate of science degree at Front Range Community College during what would have been her junior and senior years at CECFC.
“CEC is getting me where I want to be,” said Perretta. “I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time. I am able to pursue exactly what I want and start a career in the sciences.”
But her fast-tracked approach to college isn’t the only thing that sets Perretta apart from her peers. She’s managed to get very involved in the biology department during her short time at CSU and even helped staff make the move into the new building last year.
Perretta also participated in the Bridges to Baccalaureate (B2B) research internship program, which placed her in a grassland ecology research lab during the summer before transferring to CSU from Front Range. She has stayed connected with friends and advisors of program while continuing to work in the lab.
“As a transfer student, it can be very difficult to get involved on a new university campus and pursue research,” said Perretta. “It is a big transition from community college to university, and transfer students can be put at a disadvantage having less time to network. Also, many transfer students come from unique backgrounds that can put them out of place from the normal college experience. B2B helps transfer students overcome a lot of these barriers and gain the same opportunities as four-year students – this was definitely the case for me. I found my Ram family through this fun summer research experience and continued help from B2B along the way.”
Perretta has plans to move to Oceanside, Calif., after graduation. There, she will continue her search for a job in conservation, restoration, environmental consulting or biotechnology.