Some high school students have the ambition to graduate at the top of their class or to gain admission to a very selective university. Lifelong Aurora, Colorado, resident Christopher Bui, accomplished the unheard-of by graduating with an associate’s degree from Community College of Aurora before he received his diploma from Rangeview High School in 2010.
“In 2008, I went to CCA with my guidance counselor and she recommended I sign up for concurrent enrollment,” Bui said. “By the time I graduated high school, I had an associate’s degree in science. I was a college graduate before I was a high school graduate.”
Bui said that he pushed himself academically from a young age. That included taking AP courses in high school, along with taking college-level courses at CCA and at the University of Colorado as part of the CU Denver Scholars Program.
Concurrent enrollment at CCA allows high school students to start their college education or career training while also receiving high school credit. This program prepares high schoolers for college-level work and can help them obtain a degree faster, although most students don’t obtain degrees as fast as Bui.
“CCA is a safe, affordable pathway to higher education,” Bui said. “My experience there has been incredibly positive. It’s tough to focus in a class of 300 people. At CCA, you’re in a class of 20 to 30 students and you get personalized attention.”
Bui said some of his classmates couldn’t believe he was still in high school. However, his classmates were nurturing and contributed to a collaborative atmosphere. His success at CCA helped him obtain an economics degree from the University of Colorado Denver.
After working in corporate finance for a few years, Bui and his business partner decided to open the first Halal Guys franchise in Colorado. The transition from finance to business owner allows Bui to share knowledge and his own success with high school students in Aurora.
“It’s a very big blessing to me, Aurora is where I was born and raised,” Bui said. “ I have a lot of high schoolers working for me who went to the same high school I did. I like sharing knowledge, knowledge is power.”
For Aurora students who seek education or are determining their career path, Bui advises to “always push forth with your learning and acquire as much knowledge as you can.”
“We are blessed to live in a golden age of technology where information is at our fingertips,” Bui said, who is a first-generation college graduate. As a son of immigrant Vietnamese parents, he said getting guidance from his high school counselor was instrumental in taking courses at CCA and later CU Denver. “Where you can’t find knowledge, go seek it out. Speak with someone who can provide that to you.”