Second Double-Degree Cohort to Graduate Peoria Public Schools & Illinois Central College

While most senior students anxiously await their high school graduation, a special group of 14 Peoria Public Schools students will celebrate two milestones this May. On Saturday, May 14, these students will earn their associate degree from Illinois Central College as part of the Diploma-Degree (D2) program, and then next Saturday, May 21, earn their high school diploma. This cohort of 14 has achieved a median GPA of 3.325, with 11 students earning a 3.0 or higher.

“We are incredibly proud of this resilient group of young adults who, during a worldwide pandemic, chose to accelerate their education and careers while saving significant time and money,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “We look forward to the additional cohorts that will continue to graduate each May with both their high school diploma and associate degrees.”

“I am ecstatic that Peoria Public Schools can provide the funds, guidance, and resources to our students who want to challenge themselves and do something different with their education,” said Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Peoria Public Schools superintendent.

Graduate Michael Farrell said, “Before joining this program, I didn’t even know how seriously I wanted to take school. But my first semester in this program demonstrated how successful I could be in the right learning environment with the right resources.”

He says his decision to participate in the D2 program allowed him to thrive academically, and he hopes to serve as a role model for students who are struggling to find their place in the education system.

To make his accomplishment even more exciting, Michael’s father will also be walking the ICC stage and earning his associate degree. “We have both embarked on this long academic journey and are enthusiastic about seeing it come to fruition during the ceremony. It is never too late to reach your goals, and I feel that being able to experience graduation together really epitomizes that sentiment,” said Farrell.

Now, at the age of 17, Michael plans to continue his education at Bradley University where he will pursue his bachelor’s degree in English, with the goal of becoming an attorney.

The D2 program was first launched between ICC and Peoria Public Schools in the fall of 2019. It offers high-performing high school juniors the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and an associate in arts degree at the same time. Students attend classes together as a cohort at the ICC Peoria campus and have full access to the College’s academic support services. Their high school counselors continue supporting the students, who also have the option of participating in their high school extra-curricular activities.

For more information regarding the D2 Diploma-Degree program, please contact the ICC College and Career Readiness office at (309) 690-6863 or Peoria Public Schools Innovation and Grants Officer Dr. Susan Grzanich at [email protected]. Additional information is also available at