The Bridge to Start program that launched in May of this year as a partnership between Smart Horizons Career Online Education and Anthem College ( and Florida Career College (FCC; continues to make a difference in students’ lives.

Twenty-one-year-old Anahi Ferral had passed all of her courses while enrolled at Lennard High School from 2006 to 2010 in her native Ruskin, FL. However, she was not awarded a high school diploma because she fell two points short of the required score on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) that is taken by all public school students in Florida.

Enter Bridge to Start and its unique hybrid learning experience that features state-of-the-art computer labs on all 11 FCC campuses, each staffed by an on-site academic facilitator. These labs enable students such as Ferral to complete SHCOE’s online coursework in campus environments that prepare them for their future post-secondary studies.

Ferral enrolled in the program on FCC’s Brandon, FL campus in July of this year and completed coursework in the General Career Preparation certificate path on August 16. Coupled with the high school courses that transferred from her years at Lennard High School, Ferral was able to earn her high school diploma through SHCOE’s AdvancED/SACS-accredited online school district. This has enabled her to fulfill a dream to attend college as she moves on to college-level coursework in FCC’s Medical Assistant program.

SHCOE’s General Career Preparation program is designed specifically to prepare students for entry into post-secondary career colleges. Not only did the General Career Preparation program make it possible for Ferral to receive her high school diploma, it also provided her with valuable skills. Areas of focus in the program include:

  • Computer skills, including Email and the Internet
  • Popular office software programs such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint
  • Communication
  • Management skills
  • Preparation for entrance into a post-secondary training program

“I always felt prepared for the tests, and everything was easy to follow and made sense,” Ferral said of the coursework, which is designed to build skills that will serve her both in school and in meeting her future career goals. “I want to work in the medical profession and continue to study toward becoming a registered nurse,” she said.

“Enrollment in SHCOE’s Bridge to Path high school program has increased almost 50 percent in the past three months and continues to grow at a rapid pace. Our students’ success is a direct result of the FCC on-campus support and the academic support provided by SHCOE,” said Brittany Adkison, SHCOE’s Senior Manager of Enrollment. “The aim of this collaboration is to engage students and keep them motivated toward graduation and matriculation into college.”