RED WING -- Even though the COVID-19 pandemic shut down both schools Mira Rodriguez was attending this spring, she still managed to pull off a double graduation.

Rodriguez, who was a senior at Red Wing High School, was also enrolled in PSEO at Minnesota State College Southeast in Red Wing. PSEO -- Post Secondary Enrollment Options -- is a program through the Minnesota Department of Education which allows high school students to earn college credits through approved postsecondary institutions.

Rodriguez said she heard about the PSEO program from A Red Wing High School teacher.

“It was something I was really interested in,” she said. “I wanted to take some classes that pushed me to do my best, to continue to learn more.”

During her final two years of high school, she attended classes at MSCSE full time, allowing her to earn a diploma from Red Wing High School and an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Minnesota State College Southeast.

“When I was deciding whether or not to do the PSEO program, some people said it would be really difficult,” said Rodriguez, who graduated with high honors. “You have to be self-motivated, but it is definitely worth it. You feel accomplished. It has the difficulty, but it has empowerment, too.”

Some of the opportunities that Rodriguez enjoyed most were woods and metals classes.

“That’s the thing I wanted in the PSEO program, some classes that would encourage me to make something,” she said.

She also enjoyed her Spanish classes and hopes that someday she can live in a Spanish-speaking country to “further my knowledge of Spanish and learn about the culture,” she said. “I would appreciate traveling to another country and experiencing it head on.”

While she enjoyed the PSEO program, Rodriguez said it was also difficult to leave Red Wing High School early.

“I did miss my teachers,” she said. “They always told me to do my best. I told them that I was interested in PSEO, and they told me I could do it.”