With the class of 2014, Tallahassee Community College was proud to graduate
another honors student who is simultaneously earning her high school diploma
and Associate of Arts degree. Lydia Garthwait is 18 years old and has been a
homeschool student since kindergarten. But for the past six semesters, she has
also been a college student at TCC through the dual-enrollment program.
TCC22 recently sat down with Lydia for a Q&A session to look back
at her experiences as an honors student here at TCC and to find out what her
next steps are after graduation.
Q: Please tell me a little about
your educational background. Why did you choose to be dual-enrolled at TCC?
A: I was homeschooled almost my entire life. I did a year of sixth grade
at public school, but I realized I liked homeschooling better and went back.
Once I entered high school, I took some online classes, I took some classes at
Leon High School, and then the summer before 11th grade I started
taking classes here at TCC. My sister did it and it was a really good
experience for her.
Q: How have these experiences,
like already taking online classes and already being in a more independent
structure, helped you be successful here at TCC?
A: Being homeschooled, you definitely need to be independently driven,
but that is what I thrive in. I felt that high school was kind of holding me
back a bit and being in a college environment where I could be free was liberating
and helped me reach my potential.
Q: What is the financial impact
for you and your family to graduate with an A.A. degree at age 18?
A: Getting all of that quality education for free, other than
transportation and books, was a major reason to dual enroll.
Q: What advice would you have
for students who are thinking about dual enrollment?
A: I’d say go for it. I’d also say it is not something to take lightly.
It is a lot of work. If you are very much into the high school life, you will
have to give that up. But I would say what you take away is definitely worth
it. I’d say definitely jump into it. The Learning Commons is amazing, the
people are amazing, the diversity, everything. It is just something you have to
drive through and keep going. Don’t give up.
Q: What is your plan
post-graduation from TCC?
A: I applied to Colorado College through QuestBridge, which is a
national scholarship organization. I’m going there to complete my bachelor’s in
biology and anthropology. Then I plan on doing two years in the Peace Corps before
going to med school.
Q: After living and going to
school in Tallahassee your whole life, what are your expectations moving
A: One of the things I love and will miss about Tallahassee and TCC is
the diversity. Age, race, etc. No matter how far I go in the world, no matter
where I am, I am going to be comfortable being with people who are different
than me. And I think Tallahassee, TCC, homeschooling have all helped with that.
Q: What has helped you be
successful during your time at TCC?
A: Being driven. The Learning Commons, I’d say I live there. Anytime I
have not done well in a class it is because I did not live in the Learning
Commons. I joined the Honors Program and that has helped a lot because it is
like a community. You get to know your peers better because you are in all of
the same classes.
Q: Why should students join the
Honors Program here at TCC?
A: Smaller classes. The community feel. We have a lounge where you can
get to know other students in between classes. As a high school student, your
parents are still expecting you to be around them a lot and be home. They are
not expecting you to be at college yet. I have had semesters where I leave at
8:00 in the morning and not come home until 8:30 or 9 at night. I think that
was really hard on them. It was really hard on me. I think joining the Honors
Program gave me a safe community at TCC that really let me have a family there
and allowed me to be more comfortable on the rest of the campus.
Q: Do you have any professors
here at TCC who have really inspired you?
A: I loved 99.99% of them. One that really sticks out is Dr. Anthony
Jones, who is now the associate dean of natural sciences. He was my Intro to
Human Biology professor. He is probably the reason why I want to be a
Q: How does it feel to be
A: I’m ready to move on because I have been here for six semesters, but
at the same time I don’t want to leave because I love it here so much. It’s
Q: What three or four words
would you use to describe TCC?
A: I would describe TCC as diverse, inspiring and home.
Q: Do you have any other advice
for fellow or incoming students?
A: I totally wish I had joined the Stem Star Program. I think it would
have been an additional great community. Join the Honors Program. Submit things
to the Eyrie. Go to the gym. Be in the Learning Commons. Whatever interests
you, jump in it.