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2011 May 30 - 12:00 am

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: 4 Ky. High School Students Graduate with Dual Degrees

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — Four western Kentucky high-school students graduated with dual degrees this May — a high school diploma and an associate degree.

The students are part of the inaugural Middle College program that began two years ago at West Kentucky Community & Technical College. The two-year cooperative program is offered to McCraken and Marshall County schools.

McCracken Superintendent Nancy Waldrop says it is aimed at students who might not otherwise attend college and who would be the first in their family to graduate from a higher education institution.

The Paducah Sun reports 18-year-old Jackie Lile, 18-year-old Jeremy Sneed, 18-year-old Katie Young, 17-year-old Ali Greer attended their college graduation before going to their high school graduations later in the month.

Greer, who quit her volleyball team at Marshall County High School to fully commit to the college, said her decision was difficult but worth it. Not only has she been accepted to the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, but she has already completed her elective and general education course work.

Middle College counselor Donna Mattingly said Greer’s enrollment in the program made her a more competitive pharmacology school candidate.

“She has proven herself in college,” Mattingly said. “So she wasn’t merely graduating from high school, she had shown that she could go to college, and she could do the work, and she was ready to step out.”

Sneed, Lile and Young are also finding an edge with their associate’s degrees. They will start at their chosen colleges as juniors. Sneed and Lile will go to Western Kentucky University in the fall and Young will attend Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia.

Young described her time at Middle College as amazing. She said she often felt like an outcast at Marshall County High School and had advice for students considering the program.

“If anybody’s hesitant about it, do it,” she said. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I wouldn’t trade one single day, one single headache, one single test, one single anything.”

Sneed, who attends Heath High School, and Lile, who attends Lone Oak High School, credit their close friendship to the program. Sneed said some of his friends thought he would miss out on high school experiences by attending college early.

“This is high school, only way better,” Sneed said.

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