Senior Graduates with Associate's Degree Six Months before Graduating B&P

Sidney Caballero, a Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School senior, celebrates two graduations this year. As a participant in the school’s Dual Enrollment Program with Delaware County Community College (DCCC), Sidney attained her Associate of Science for Health Professionals degree on December 12, 2021 - her 18th birthday. And then celebrated her graduation from Bonner & Prendie in June 2022.
“Sidney was always super bright,” her mother, Eve Caballero, explained. “I worked closely with her teachers when she started school to keep her challenged.”
When Sidney was old enough to attend elementary school, many Philadelphia Catholic schools began to close. As a result, Sidney attended public school for kindergarten and first grade, while her parents placed her name on the waiting list of several local parish schools.
“Sidney did not enjoy first grade,” Eve shared. “While other students were learning their ABCs, Sidney completed full book reports. I was concerned she would become bored with school.”
Public schools did not offer a different curriculum for more advanced children at the time, like Sidney. So, to keep Sidney engaged, Eve met several times with her daughter’s first- grade teacher, who assembled a workbook for Sidney to complete more advanced problems.
Finally, Eve received a phone call from St. Eugene School in Primos, Pennsylvania, at the end of first grade that a spot was open for Sidney. Eve’s younger son, Jordan, entered kindergarten that year, so both Sidney and Jordan were enrolled and attended St. Eugene School until eighth grade.
“It was a great move for our kids. St. Eugene was more challenging for Sidney, so she just fit in better there,” explained Eve.

Rey Caballero, Sidney’s father, grew up in Panama, where he attended Catholic school through college. Her mother, Eve, grew up in Hungary and was raised Catholic but attended public school. In 1984, Rey left Panama to pursue new opportunities in the United States, and, in 1997, Eve did the same. Their paths crossed years later at a mutual friend’s birthday party in New Jersey.

After Rey and Eve married, they lived in Philadelphia for a few years before settling in Delaware County over 20 years ago. Eve attended Harcum College, where she obtained a state board license on expanded function dental assistant (EFDA). She now works as an EFDA for the Department of Veteran Affairs. Rey worked as a general manager for over 20 years until the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. This year, the Caballeros celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary.

“Rey and I were both raised Catholic, and faith is important to us,” Eve said. “Our kids are first-generation Americans, and we wanted them to experience a faith-based education.”

Sidney’s older half-brother, Alex Caballero, was the first to attend Bonner & Prendie.
After a great high school experience, Alex graduated from Lafayette College and became a mechanical engineer. When it came time for Sidney to transfer to Bonner & Prendie in ninth grade, the transition was smooth.

“Most of my grade school went to Bonner & Prendie, so I knew a lot of people,” Sidney shared.

Sidney participated in cheerleading tryouts in the summer before ninth grade and joined the squad. Spending time that summer with her new cheerleading friends made the transition to ninth grade even easier. Sidney also participated in chorus and theater during her freshman year but decided to focus on her studies, cheerleading, and work after securing a part-time job as a pharmacy technician at Giant at the age of 16. Now a senior at Bonner & Prendie, Sidney is the captain of the varsity cheerleading squad.
Eve admits that sending two kids through Catholic school put a significant financial strain on their family. Rey and Eve made sacrifices, but they believed in the value of Catholic education. Scholarship support made it possible for them to afford tuition each year. Sidney received the St. Katharine Drexel Scholarship, which provided her with annual tuition support. She also received assistance from the Anthony J. Cerino Foundation.

Sidney learned of the Dual Enrollment Program with DCCC in her freshman year. That year, she decided to enroll and began taking one college-level class a semester in addition to her high school schoolwork. DCCC offered two six-week sessions in the summer, and Sidney enrolled in both. When the pandemic arrived in the spring of her sophomore year and all classes became virtual, Sidney saw an opportunity to attain her associate degree earlier.

“During the pandemic, all of my classes became remote. Since there was a significant discount for college classes through the dual enrollment program, I saw it as an opportunity to take more classes,” Sidney explained. Since then, Sidney has taken two to three college-level classes a semester.

Through the Associate of Science for Health Professionals degree program, Sidney took all her core curriculum, college classes, like English 1 and 2, statistics, pre- calculus, chemistry, anatomy, and physics. The program also allowed her to take more advanced courses of interest, like psychology and Spanish.

“My teachers at DCCC were nice and understanding of the fact that I was also taking high school classes full-time,” Sidney said.
Sidney and her mother, Eve, are confident the dual degree program saved both time and money. “In total, my Associate degree cost $4,000,” Sidney shared, “but it would have cost me tens of thousands of dollars to take the same classes at a four-year college.”

As a result of the program, Sidney will graduate from college two years earlier, which is vital to a student with doctoral plans. Sidney received acceptance letters from Drexel University, Penn State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences, University of New Orleans, and University of Alabama. She has decided to attend Drexel University. Sidney’s goal is to attain a bachelor’s in biology and attend medical school to become a child psychiatrist. With Sidney’s drive and determination, there is no doubt she will achieve her goals.

“I’m grateful to my parents for sending me to Bonner & Prendie,” Sidney said. “I’m also grateful for the opportunity to get my associate degree while in high school. It makes achieving my goals in the long run easier and more affordable.”

“Easier” is relative, of course. As Sidney’s mother, Eve, points out, “Students in the dual degree program need self-discipline. They must be willing to put in a lot of work and sacrifice time with friends. It was not easy for Sidney, but for students who are willing to commit, it will save them a great deal of time and money.”