SARASOTA, Fla. (Feb. 07, 2017) USF Sarasota-Manatee is welcoming its first dual-enrollment student after announcing an agreement last summer with the Sarasota County School District to allow qualified high school students to take classes here.
Ydelmis Cutino, a 17-year-old from Booker High School in Sarasota, is currently signed up for business calculus and American Sign Language classes after moving to the area from North Miami last spring. The senior has amassed an impressive 5.2 Grade Point Average (weighted) during her high school career in Miami and expects to be at or near the top of her class at graduation June 3 from Booker.
Not only is she signed up for classes at USFSM, she’s registered at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, and expects to graduate with an associate’s degree May 5.
Cutino said she’s been taking college classes for years, since she was a freshman at Westland Hialeah Senior High School and registered at Miami Dade College. By the time she moved here as a senior, she had amassed 37 college credits.
“I’ve always had a passion for learning and being the best I can be,” she said. “I’ve been like that pretty much ever since I began school.”
A daughter of Cuban immigrants, Cutino said she’s driven to excel by a competitive spirit and laser-sharp focus that, as a little girl, had her dreaming of becoming a business lawyer.
She settled on the legal profession out of a desire to help people and because she was swayed by two cousins, one a business lawyer and the other a criminal defense attorney. However, she added, “I’ve always been very persuasive when making an argument.”
Her post-graduation plans remain up in the air. While leaning toward international business, Cutino said she hasn’t decided whether to attend USFSM or another university for her bachelor’s degree. After that, she’s intent to enroll at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, likely within the next 18 to 24 months.
Given that trajectory, Cutino could be arguing cases as a member of the Florida Bar by age 23 – just as most students are starting law school.
She expects her college classes to become more difficult as her education progresses, but she’s accustomed to a rigorous academic schedule and having to make sacrifices for her education.
While most students her age are out at night going to parties, theme parks or the mall, Cutino will likely be at home studying for tests. She hits the books two hours per day on average, but can bump up her nightly study habits by another four hours during exam week.
However, she says she’s never viewed school work as burdensome and doesn’t mind donning the “nerd” label if it means acing an exam.
“I’ve just always been like this,” she said. “My parents were strict in terms of education, and so I think that had an effect on how I approach things, even when I was really young. I was the valedictorian in middle school, and I think that just carried over into high school.
“In October I was ranked as having the second-highest GPA in my graduating class. But it might be higher now. It probably is with the classes I’ve taken so far.”