REYNOLDSBURG—Every day for two years, 18-year-old Mackenzie Kaminski drove an hour to get to and from Columbus State Community College.

“Junior year I started full-time downtown campus, so I drove every day for class… it was very tough,” said Kaminski.

·      College Credit Plus program lets students earn HS and college credit at the same time

·      Over 71,000 Ohio students enrolled in the 2017-18 school year alone

·      The program has saved Ohio families over $260 million.

"Some semesters I only had two classes. Some semesters I had three. So, it was really nice and laid back because I didn't have a full six class schedule. So, I was able to get work done more efficiently," said Kaminski.

The first-generation college student saved her parents about $10,000.

"Trying to push and motivate myself for my family was a really big thing," said Kaminski.

Big because there was a lot of pressure to graduate, the soon to be bio-medical major took college credit plus courses earning her an Associate’s degree, while still in high school.

Ohio's College Credit Plus gives kids in grades 7 to 12 a chance to earn high school and college credits by taking classes at a college or university.

Public school students attending an Ohio public college or university get free tuition and free books. 

Since its start in 2015, the number of students enrolling continues to grow each year.

Over 71,000 Ohio students enrolled in the 2017-18 school year alone. 

Columbus State's director of the College Credit Plus curriculum, Lauren Jones, says they've seen exponential growth—from just over 1,000 students in the beginning to over 5,000 students enrolling this year. 

"We are proud that we are the largest college credit plus serving institution in the state of Ohio every semester; but it's not because we are looking at the numbers,” said Jones. “It's because we're looking at partnerships. And we're looking at trying to create quality academic opportunities for students."

Jones says the success is not because they set out to grow the college through the program. 

"We are really fortunate to have some wonderful high school partners who have been making this a priority for their students and making this available to their students," Jones said. 

This year, a record 30 students graduated with a high school diploma and Associate’s degrees from Columbus State.

Mackenzie Kaminski was one of them.

Although she finished, she says she had her fair share of challenges trying to do so. 

From losing contact with friends to struggling to pass classes like college algebra, she certainly had her work cut out for her. 

"So, for me, this was really hard because I couldn't test into. So, I was forced to take an extra...extra two classes over the summer that were both math, in order to get up to my college algebra,” said Kaminski.

When she wasn't in class she was playing volleyball, but called it quits to go to work as a server and event planner.

"I decided I needed to work, you know, in order to pay for my car so I could get places," said Kaminski. "I definitely was juggling, I felt at many times."

But the challenges and full schedule didn't stop her from pursuing more—more on the runway that is—as a Columbus Fashion Week model and model for top fashion designers.

"I've been doing a lot of shows. I'm hoping to go to New York Fashion week here in September," said Kaminski.

Kaminski believes her drive to excel is what keeps her moving forward to pursue her dreams. 

Now a proud graduate of Reynoldsburg High School and Columbus State Community College, the teen says she wanted to make sure that her pathway to success in the college credit plus program would inspire others.

"Being the only one from Bell this year to an Associate’s was such a huge achievement, you know, so I really was pushing to get that for my school and to motivate other kids that they can do it as well," said Kaminski.

While Kaminski sacrificed a lot by driving many miles, studying many hours, and working many days, she knows and wants others to know that it was well worth it.

Kaminski heads to Alverno college in Wisconsin as a sophomore to play volleyball in the fall.

She says she still plans to model.

Columbus State officials say this is the first year they have officially tracked data to know how many students like Kaminski graduated and saved money.

So far, College Credit Plus has saved Ohio families over 260 million dollars.