By Jon Marcus at The Hechinger Institute, CNNMoney
New York (CNNMoney) - Berevan Omer graduated on a Friday in February with an associate's degree from Nashville State Community College and started work the following Monday as a computer-networking engineer at a local television station, making about $50,000 a year.
That's 15% higher than the average starting salary for graduates - not only from community colleges, but for bachelor's degree holders from four-year universities.
"I have a buddy who got a four-year bachelor's degree in accounting who's making $10 an hour," Omer says. "I'm making two and a-half times more than he is."
Omer, who is 24, is one of many newly minted graduates of community colleges defying history and stereotypes by proving that a bachelor's degree is not, as widely believed, the only ticket to a middle-class income.
READ: Which colleges provides best bang for your buck?
Nearly 30% of Americans with associate's degrees now make more than those with bachelor's degrees, according to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. In fact, other recent research in several states shows that, on average, community college graduates right out of school make more than graduates of four-year universities.
The average wage for graduates of community colleges in Tennessee, for instance, is $38,948 - more than $1,300 higher than the average salaries for graduates of the state's four-year institutions.
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By Chuck Hadad, CNN
Programming note: Learn more about Alex’s story and see how he has transformed from bullying victim to advocate in the AC360° documentary “The Bully Effect” on Thursday, February 28 at 10 p.m. ET.
(CNN) - The bullying Jackie Libby’s son, Alex, faced every day was so severe that she worried the emotional toll would drive him to suicide.
“I would lay up with my husband at night and … just cry and say … what if he decides he doesn’t want to be here anymore? I mean, at that point, there was really only one more way to disengage. He was failing out of school. He wasn’t involved with his family at all. He didn’t want to have anything to do with his siblings. He didn’t have any friends,” Libby said. “There was only one more way for him to get out.”
Alex first spoke about his tormentors not to his mother but on camera to documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch in what would become the award-winning film “Bully.”
“They punch me in the jaw, strangle me. They knock things out of my hand, take things from me, sit on me,” Alex said in the movie. “They push me so far that I want to become the bully.”
The footage Hirsch captured of Alex being beaten on the school bus was so shocking that the filmmaker felt a moral imperative to show it to Alex’s mother and officials at his school in Sioux City, Iowa.
For Libby, it was the beginning of a battle for justice for her son. “My reaction was, I just started bawling, and then I got angry,” she said.
Read the full post on CNN's AC360° blog
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org