Madison College Awards Special Medallion to Nearly 400 High School Graduates


While some people earn medals for running races, these local high school graduating seniors are being recognized for crossing a different kind of finish line.

In spring 2023, approximately 400 graduating seniors received a special medallion from Madison College, recognizing their achievement of completing 12 or more college credits or earning a Madison College credential prior to high school graduation.

“The medallions are a new initiative to formally recognize these hardworking high school students,” says Audra Cooke, Madison College’s Early College partnership manager. “These are students who’ve earned a technical diploma or industry credential, participated in dual credit courses at their respective high schools or taken classes with Madison College faculty through the Start College Now program, participated fulltime in the STEM Academy Program, or a combination of the above. What they’ve done is quite the accomplishment."

In the 2023 spring semester over 1,700 high school students from 41 district high schools collectively earned approximately 7,500 college credits from Madison College. Of these students, 29 of them earned an associate degree and 158 students earned technical diplomas in areas such as nursing assistant and EMT. Additionally, 31 students are now fully certified as firefighters, emergency responders, hazardous materials operations, and CPR/early defibrillation.

One thing is for certain: They’ve all gotten an early start on their academic goals or careers.

Columbus High School graduates who earned medallions
Columbus High School graduates who earned medallions
Jefferson High School graduates holding Madison College Earl College book bags
Jefferson High School early college graduates

Celebrating Success

The medallions are a visual way for students to celebrate their success, and she hopes it draws interest from other high school students and families who may not otherwise know about Madison College’s Early College offerings.

“We often hear from students and families who didn’t know about these opportunities, and we hope these medallions are a way to increase awareness, pique interest, and generate questions about the variety of Early College options,” Cooke says.

The credits are earned through dual credit courses, which are classes taught at high schools by qualified high school teachers, or through Start College Now, which are classes taught at Madison College by its faculty. Additionally, the college’s STEM Academy is a full-time dual enrollment program where interested 11th and 12th graders take a full-time schedule of college classes at Madison College. (STEM participating high schools are Lodi, Sun Prairie, and Madison Metropolitan School District.

Preparing Students for What’s Next

For high school students like Eva Perez, a senior at Verona Area High School, it was an economical decision and part of her bigger plan to stack up Madison College credits while still in high school. “It was nice to get a head start on my college coursework while still in high school, especially because my high school pays for the courses,” she says.

Perez plans to attend UW-Madison and wanted to obtain as many college credits as possible before getting started. “Credits cost money in higher education, and I know how much gaining these college credits now will help me get ahead, and maybe even set me on a path to graduating college earlier.”

McFarland high school senior Iqra Arif appreciated being able to take classes her high school didn’t offer, like Race and Ethnicity, Media and Democracy and Abnormal Psychology. Through Early College course offerings, and the flexibility of taking some of those classes online, she’s already completed more than a year of college coursework.

Eva Perez, a 2023 senior attending Verona Area High School
“Credits cost money in higher education, and I know how much gaining these college credits now will help me get ahead, and maybe even set me on a path to graduating college earlier.”
Eva Perez
Verona Area High School student

For Arif, who plans to study either biochemistry or biology at UW-Madison, there’s also a sense of readiness and excitement for her first college semester.

“Taking college classes now allowed me to get a sense of what to expect, even with how assignments are given,” she says. “And, since I’ll have more credits, I will not feel stressed out about having to cram classes in. I can also now take more Intermediate level classes instead of beginner, so it’ll help me progress with the requirements for my major.”

For Perez, who credits Madison College for helping her improve and work on literary analysis skills, she feels proud and ready for what’s ahead. “My classes have helped me feel more confident and prepared for college.”

Far Reaching Impact

Below are schools with high school graduates who've earned a medallion in spring 2023. For more information on Madison College's Early College programming, contact

  • Baraboo High School
  • Belleville
  • Cambria Friesland High School
  • Cambridge High School
  • Capital High School- MMSD
  • Columbus High School
  • Deerfield High School
  • DeForest High School
  • Fort Atkinson High School
  • James Madison Memorial HS
  • Jefferson High School
  • Lafollette High School
  • Lake Mills High School
  • Lodi High School
  • Madison East High School
  • Madison West High School
  • Marshall High School
  • McFarland High School
  • Memorial High School
  • Middleton High School
  • Monona Grove High School
  • Montello Junior/Senior High Sc
  • Mount Horeb High School
  • New Glarus Middle/High School
  • Oregon High School
  • Pardeeville High School
  • Portage High School
  • Poynette High School
  • Prairie Phoenix Academy
  • Reedsburg Area High School
  • Rio High School
  • Sauk Prairie High School
  • Stoughton High School
  • Sun Prairie East High School
  • Sun Prairie West High School
  • Vel Phillips Memorial High Sch
  • Verona Area High School
  • Watertown High School
  • Waunakee High School
  • Westfield Pioneer High School
  • Wisconsin Dells High School
  • Wisconsin Heights High School