Signing the agreement for a dual course of study between John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School and Community College of Philadelphia May 9 in Center City Philadelphia are, from left: Judith Gay, vice president of CCP; Denise Kassekert, president of Hallahan; Donald Guy Generals, president of CCP; and Sister Maureen McDermott, I.H.M., superintendent of secondary schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office of Catholic Education. Also present at far left is Irene Horstmann Hannan, CEO of Faith in the Future Foundation, and Hallahan students at rear. (Photo by Sarah Webb)

The young women attending John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School in Philadelphia will soon be able to earn a college-level associate’s degree upon their high school graduation, thanks to an innovative partnership with nearby Community College of Philadelphia.

Hallahan hosted a May 9 event announcing the first-of-its-kind program, which is titled “100 Steps” — the same number of steps from the school to CCP in Center City.

Beginning this fall Hallahan students may pursue a dual-course of study to earn a CCP degree in either allied health or business. Students must meet predetermined guidelines and requirements for eligibility as indicated by Hallahan and CCP. 


Leading the way in the new program will be a select group of current Hallahan freshman students enrolling in the business track. After they attend a required five-week First Year Experience course at CCP this summer, they will begin the three-year program leading to the associate’s degree.

The program calls for a split schedule between both campuses, which are located only about two blocks apart.

Students entering Hallahan for the first time in September who enroll in either program will attend the intensive course during the summer following their freshman year.

After the ceremonial signing of the agreement between school officials, current freshman student Kimberly Marti expressed her excitement about the program, which “makes me realize even more what a great decision I made in coming to Hallahan,” she said.

“To have the opportunity to be considered for such a program is beyond my dreams. To be able to accelerate my academic career and make going to college more affordable is an amazing opportunity for me and my family and shows how Hallahan is always looking to improve education for the young women of Philadelphia — just like we did more than 115 years ago.”

(Watch a video of the announcement below.)

Community College of Philadelphia’s president, Donald Guy Generals, touted the program’s accelerated career track for young people “leading to a college degree and allowing them to enter the workforce more quickly.”

The college is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania, enrolling about 29,000 students annually.

“The regional workforce benefits as the city increases the percentage of college-educated workers,” he said. “This is an important partnership for us and this city.”

Calling the initiative an “incredible opportunity” for students to pursue a dual degree, Hallahan President Denise Kassekert said the agreement “is significant as we continue in the spirit of our founder and provide unparalleled educational opportunities for our girls, making college accessible and affordable for our families.”