Class of 2024 Grads Thrive at The Middle College at UNCG

Posted on June 19, 2024

Group of graduates from the Middle College at UNCG stand together in their yellow caps and gowns.
Middle College of UNCG Class of 2024

The Middle College at UNC Greensboro offers a unique high school experience for Guilford County students interested in pursuing careers in health sciences. Opening its doors in 2011, the high school benefits from its location on UNCG’s campus to provide college courses to students. Students must also obtain 250 service hours to graduate, which is easy when you’re connected to a university whose motto is “Service”.  

Last month, the Middle College graduated its twelfth class, including some very accomplished students. Their stories illustrate how the Middle College at UNCG is providing accelerated educational opportunities, enhanced service-learning experiences, and access to UNCG’s campus which makes the transition to any college easier for its graduates.  

Pavan Ariyawansa’s Fast Track to Pre-Med 

Headshot of a student in a yellow cap and gown with Middle College at UNCG on the sash.
Pavan Ariyawansa

When Ariyawansa finished middle school, he knew he needed a challenging high school environment that offered as many college level courses as possible.  

“I have always taken college classes, not to fulfill requirements or to become Valedictorian, but purely for learning,” Ariyawansa explains. “I took numerous biology, and chemistry college classes and took many classes over the summer while interning in places such as the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, Wake Forest Center for Precision Medicine, and currently Duke University.”  

He appreciated the academic rigor and the flexibility of course scheduling at the Middle College. His courses at UNCG gave him experience with time management and allowed him to mix with undergraduates. 

“I had more independence than high school students and was slowly exposed to college culture and the typical struggles of undergraduates.”  

By setting goals early, staying motivated, and taking heavy course loads, Ariyawansa was able to graduate from high school 1.5 years earlier than the average student. He finished his senior year with an internship in a research group at Duke University that simulates and designs proteins. In the fall, he will attend UNC-Chapel Hill on the pre-medical track with a long-term goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.  

“Despite having long days at my internship and long nights working to complete yearlong courses in a matter of weeks, I have no regrets about the results,” Ariyawansa states. “Through my high school experience at the Middle College at UNCG, I have realized how much potential I have and how much more I can do in the future.” 

Chloe Thompson Finds Her Voice 

Graduate poses in cap and gown with Native American accessories and many cords and medals to signify achievements.
Chloe Thompson

Chloe Thompson originally came to the Middle College at UNCG because of her interest in health science careers. A Type 1 Diabetic since the age of two, she always wanted to help others who struggled with the disease. As a high achieving student, she was drawn to the smaller class sizes and the opportunity to take classes at UNCG that other high schools didn’t offer.  

“I felt like I had more freedom in my education,” Thompson explains. “The smaller class sizes gave me more one-on-one time with teachers. I was able to voice my opinions and ideas in classes, and I could have meetings with my guidance counselors to talk about my specific college and career plans.” 

Working with teachers gave her confidence and direction, and access to UNCG’s campus acquainted Thompson with a university atmosphere. 

“For example, my high school chemistry class was able to use the UNCG labs for experiments to prepare us for college labs,” she says. “I also remember how lecture classes initially intimidated me since they were so large, but support from my Middle College teachers helped me overcome my anxiety.” 

Furthermore, she found extracurricular activities where she discovered a passion for her Native American culture. From participating in the Middle College’s diversity club to leading activities at UNCG’s pow-wow this spring, Thompson has expanded her connection to her Mohawk ancestry during her high school years. 

Participating in conferences and organizations through Guilford County School’s American Indian Education program enlightened Thompson about Dartmouth College’s Indigenous Fly-In Program. In December, she was one of 70 students from across the country selected for the program. It was an opportunity to attend a prestigious Ivy League institution 800 miles from home while remaining connected to a community of Native American students. 

Thompson credits the Middle College with academic preparation and support to explore her passions, which ultimately enlightened a path to Dartmouth College. There she plans to major in biology, with minors in Native American and Indigenous Studies and English. 

“The Middle College has helped me so much in my education,” she raves. “I’m not sure what I would be doing for college if I hadn’t come here.” 

Salvador Perez-Toledo Discovers a Whole New World 

Graduate poses in yellow cap and gown with cords and medals.
Salvador Perez-Toledo

“My favorite memory from the Middle College at UNCG was exploring the UNCG campus and realizing how massive it was,” Salvador Perez-Toledo remembers.  

High school at the Middle College not only expanded Salvador Perez-Toledo’s view of a college campus, but it gave him a comfortable transition to the next step. He thrived in a high school atmosphere with lots of class options and flexibility.  

“At the Middle College, I was able to discover and adapt to the college lifestyle at an early age which allowed me to mentally mature at a quicker rate,” he says. “This was all possible because college classes immersed me into a new environment full of others with similar ideas.” 

Perez-Toledo came to the Middle College with health science interests but when he began to question his commitment to a medical career, he took advantage of UNCG’s classes to explore other career directions. 

“I enrolled into some business classes which ultimately made me realize my passion for business,” he explains. “Although I figured out my path on my own, I give a lot of credit to our career coordinator, Mr. Prioleau, for offering me advice and guidance along my journey. He cemented my idea of becoming a successful businessman.” 

Those early classes and the community he witnessed on the UNCG campus made Perez-Toledo decide to continue his college studies right here at the Bryan School of Business and Economics. 

“The Middle College at UNCG gave me freedom to spread my wings and enjoy finding my own path in life,” he says. “There will be obstacles, but no good story is a straight arrow. I look forward to joining the Spartan family and fighting for my success.” 

Story by Becky Deakins, University Communications. 
Photography courtesy of the Middle College at UNCG and its students. 

A UNCG student looks over the work of a group of elementary students.

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