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Honors student graduates college and high school simulatenously


LydiaGarthwait_5-2-14_web.jpgWith 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 forward? 

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 doctor.    

Q: How does it feel to be graduating? 

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 bitter sweet.   

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.​


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