ECA alumna thanks Cecil College for support

Published on April 24, 2024

This is a photograph of Rebecca Huegel, who is an alumna of the Early College Academy.

Rebecca Huegel

NORTH EAST, Md: From an early age, Rebecca Huegel’s favorite words were “why” and “how.” She was naturally inquisitive and hyper-focused on learning the answers to those two words. That determination persisted through elementary school and into junior high school when she learned about the Early College Academy program at Cecil College.

“I was very intrigued by the Early College Academy program (ECA) and heard good things about Cecil College and its community. I knew I was only in eighth grade but wanted to be in the program. It was the best decision I ever made,” said Huegel, who graduated from Cecil College in May 2023 with an associate degree in general studies and then walked across the stage at Perryville High School four weeks later to receive her diploma.

Cecil College’s ECA program accepts students entering ninth grade who have demonstrated academic excellence in their class. They start as freshmen and sophomores by taking introductory-level college classes and studying skills training from Cecil College professors who travel to Perryville, Elkton, and Oxford high schools. The teens take higher-level courses in their major on the North East Campus during their junior and senior years to complete an associate of arts degree.

As her junior year at Perryville was approaching, Huegel was looking forward to attending classes on the Cecil College campus, but she also had apprehensions due to her hearing impairment. Would she be able to keep pace with her classmates? Would there be assistance to help her understand the lectures? Would the instructors be accepting? Those uncertainties were laid to rest when she met with Raegen Iler, Coordinator for Accessibility Services, to discover all the services available to assist with her studies.

“The disability services and Raegen Iler was great about providing accommodations to assist me in my studies. Cecil College had so many resources to help with my hearing impairment,” said Huegel, who has cochlear implants to help overcome her hearing loss. She depends heavily on lip reading and struggles to take notes during lectures. “Having preferential seating and a peer notetaker for lectures were a huge help and benefit in my success. Without these, I would have struggled to keep up with the lecture and comprehend the information.”

Huegel found the faculty not only understanding but extremely compassionate and willing to help her overcome her disability. Psychology Professor Meredith Lutz-Stehl and Business Associate Professor Adele Foltz didn’t just become mentors for Huegel; they became her guiding lights, leading her toward her academic success.

“I loved every minute of Professor Lutz-Stehl’s class. She taught me so much in such a short time and forever changed my studying and writing habits. Two semesters later, I had Professor Foltz for accounting. She helped me to find my love for accounting, and I loved every minute. I’ve kept in touch with her and will forever remember her impact on my studies as she helped me to decide to major in accounting,” said Huegel, who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Goldey-Beacom College to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a master’s degree. “The ECA program was a good way to get the general classes done while exploring other fields of study and get a feel for what I wanted to do. The introductory classes within the different majors helped me to decide to major in accounting after Cecil College.”

Attending Cecil College helped Huegel grow academically, professionally, and personally. She notes that the coursework and professors taught her valuable life, academic, and work lessons. She came away with enhanced study skills, improved writing abilities, the confidence to present her ideas in public, and most of all, the self-assurance to prepare for an interview that landed her an eight-week internship with Belfint, Lyons & Shuman, P.A., an accounting firm in Wilmington, Del.

The mentorship Huegel received from the faculty at Cecil College and Goldey-Beacom College has instilled a desire to pay it forward when she is established professionally within a few years. She is looking forward to helping the next generation realize their dreams.

“Some advice I would give juniors and seniors in high school considering college is to apply to multiple schools, give it your best effort every day, and, even when it gets hard, learn from your mistakes. Never, ever be ashamed to ask for help. College professors want to see you be successful,” said Huegel.