By Matt Mackinder
Clarkston News Editor
OAKLAND COUNTY — Clarkston’s Andrew Morehead started at Oakland Technical Early College (OTEC) three years ago to get ahead in school.
Three years later, he’s doing just that.
“The reason why I enrolled in OTEC was I never thought I was going to be able to be successful in a college setting, but I wanted to challenge myself and get away from the high school,” said Morehead. “This program gave me multiple benefits. It showed me how to be self-sufficient, have self-discipline, and much more. This program also helped a ton with communication skills and networking with employers and professors. OTEC was mostly in-person for me, and I did take a few online classes, but all of my classes were at OCC in Auburn Hills.
“Most importantly, while I was pursuing my degree, I was also interviewing at different companies. I ended up landing a job at an engineering company called Oneiric Systems Systems, located in Madison Heights. I gained lots of crucial skills directly related to my degree I was pursuing at Oakland Community College.”
OTEC is a rigorous three-year program offering high school students an early start in post-secondary training to better prepare them for high-skill, high-demand, and high-wage careers. Oakland Schools Technical Campuses (OSTC) partner with OCC to combine early college opportunities with many of their career technical programs.
During the 11th and 12th grades, students take high school requirements, an OSTC program and college courses that align with a technical degree. Students attend OCC full-time during an added 13th year, completing their high school diploma and potentially earning an associate degree.
The cost for college tuition and books are covered for participants in this program. Students and their families are responsible for transportation to OCC.
“It’s kind of confusing, but I got my associate’s degree at Oakland Community College in technological science with a focus in mechatronics,” Morehead said. “Once I finished my associate’s degree, I wanted to pursue a bachelor’s degree where I am now studying mechanical engineering technology at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.
“Since I am pursuing a different degree, not all of my credits have been transferred but right now, I have about a year’s worth of credits covered in my degree. I’m still waiting to get more classes evaluated. My goal in mechanical engineering is to get into the marine industry and work on designing and testing boats and inboard and outboard motors.”
Morehead graduated from Clarkston High School in May 2022 and then from OCC in May of 2023.
“Oakland Technical Early College combines the learning and experiences of their program at Oakland Schools Technical Campus, with related coursework through Oakland CC to give students a competitive advantage towards high skill and in demand career pathways,” said Ben Morin, career readiness, Oakland Schools student services.
This year is the eighth cohort of students in the OTEC program, with nine from Clarkston in various years. Many students from Clarkston have completed the program over the years with much success, including Joseph Fons (2019, first cohort, associate in tech science (collision), went on to business degree at Michigan State), Daniel Regan (2019, first cohort, associate in tech science (mechatronics)), Ken Her (2020, second cohort, associate in tech science (mechatronics)), Karson Sandomierski (2020, second cohort, associate in tech science (mechatronics)), Trumann Walsh (2020, second cohort, 58 credits earned, stayed to go into criminal justice and become a police officer), Cody Neumann (2021, third cohort, associate in applied science (graphic design), went on to Wayne State University), Caleb John (2022, fourth cohort, associate in tech science (mechatronics), was a project manager in the industry), Luke Butler (2022, fourth cohort, earned 46 credits, stayed on at OCC to finish degree), and Graham Pocock (2022, fourth cohort, 46 credits earned toward associate in applied science (software engineering), working in industry).
On the fence about OTEC? Morehead said he has advice for student and families trying to decide.
“If you are interested in the program and tired of being in your high school and want to challenge yourself, this is a great opportunity to gain information at a young age to put you ahead and help you figure out what you want to do in the future,” said Morehead.
PHOTO: Andrew Morehead is an OTEC and CHS graduate. Photo provided