Jordyn Payne of Warwick has always been driven. She remembers skipping lunch period during grade school to play the flute and devoting 30 or 40 hours every week to practicing ballet.
She has moved on from these hobbies, but her work ethic remains, leading her to earn an associate degree in Liberal Arts at just 18 years old. She will continue her higher education at New York University this fall. It’s clear that the same determination that drove her childhood hobbies has allowed her to go farther faster than many other students her age.
Payne was nearing the end of her junior year at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School when she heard about the Running Start Program at the Community College of Rhode Island. This program allows high school seniors of good academic standing to complete their high school degrees at CCRI while simultaneously earning college credits.
Feeling stifled by the traditional high school format, Payne was attracted to the greater freedom that CCRI promised.
“I didn’t think I would do two years here,” Payne said. “I just thought I would finish my senior year and then apply to [four-year] colleges like my friends were doing.”
However, Payne was comfortable at CCRI and also appreciated the chance to save money on the way to a bachelor’s degree.
“I think this has set me apart in so many different ways,” Payne said. “It’s given me a lot more maturity and opportunities.”
Payne said that CCRI and Running Start gave her the freedom and opportunity to develop herself and pursue her interests. She was able to schedule her classes in a way that gave her a lot of free time off campus, time that she filled with jobs, internships and even certificate courses at the Rhode Island School of Design – all while maintaining a 3.97 GPA.
Payne hopes to work in the fashion industry one day and is doing everything she can to break into the field. She is an intern for the biannual fashion event StyleWeek Northeast and the lead stylist for the Cranston-based magazine Fashion & Fame. She also helps plan women’s events with a colleague from StyleWeek.
In addition, Payne works as a full-time bookkeeper at an accounting firm and tutors fellow CCRI students in French. She is the president of the CCRI French Club and plans to double major in the language along with art history at NYU.
Knowing a foreign language is an important skill in both the art and fashion worlds, Payne said, and French is a natural choice given the pre-eminence of Paris as a center of fashion.
As an art major, Payne will focus on modern to contemporary works.
“I think art shapes the course of history,” she said. “It reflects the political and social issues of its day.”
Payne said CCRI has given her a great start to her college career. She thanked her professors, in particular Art Professor Natalie Coletta, whom she called a role model, and her academic adviser, Foreign Languages Professor Carol Panaccione.
“[Professor Panaccione] is more like a mother to me than an adviser or teacher,” she said.
Payne said she would recommend the Running Start program to other students.
“If the typical high school classroom doesn’t work for you, trying college out and making a schedule that does work for you can be very beneficial,” she said.