By HEATHER JOHNSON
Intermediate Plains Community College
NORTH PLATTE, Neb.-Two area high school students will earn associate degrees from Mid-Plains Community College before receiving their high school diploma.
The accomplishment of Maverick Naughtin of Sutherland and Molly Staples of Broken Bow was possible because they both successfully completed enough dual credit courses through MPCC.
Their efforts give them a head start in terms of college-level academics and save them money in the long run.
“I was very fortunate that Sutherland High School fully supported dual credit classes,” Naughtin said. “I chose this route because it was more affordable to take college courses through dual credit than to take the same courses in college later. I also liked the effectiveness of the double credit. If you can take a course that counts for two, why wouldn’t you? »
All of the dual credit classes that Naughtin has taken have been in Mid-Plains. He took most of them via Zoom — only coming to campus for the labs. There was only one, a communications class, which was entirely on campus.
Naughtin enrolled in his first college class his freshman year of high school.
“It was College Algebra, and I started it at the same time I started doing High School Algebra — they happened simultaneously,” Naughtin said. “All my English and math needs were taken care of with dual credit courses after my second year. I only had one high school class this semester, and the rest were middle school classes. I took 17 credits this semester through MPCC, which will help me brush off my generals and might cut me out a year of school later.
Two of the college courses Naughtin took this year were chemistry and physics. He took them not as dual credit, but as a separate course load.
“These are the classes I enjoyed the most,” Naughtin said. “They got me very interested in STEM fields.”
Naughtin will receive an associate of science degree from the MPCC at the college commencement ceremony in North Platte on Friday. He will begin studying civil engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Engineering this fall.
“I got really interested in electricity and power grids,” Naughtin said. “I hope to specialize in building power plants where electricity is needed and help run more hydroelectric and maybe even nuclear power sources. The focus on electricity is part of the reason I’m glad I took classes at MPCC. Physics had a strong emphasis on electricity, which I found fascinating.
Naughtin appreciated the opportunity to take some of the more difficult classes in a smaller setting. He found the instructors approachable and more than willing to help if he had any questions.
“Having in-person chemistry labs with Dr. Aaron McLean was phenomenal,” Naughtin said. “There were three or four of us in the lab talking about our studies. It really reinforced what we were learning. MPCC provided a relaxed environment where I felt comfortable communicating with my instructors and with other students.
Naughtin said he was grateful to MPCC for the start it gave him and the opportunities that came his way as a result.
“I was one of 10 students accepted into the Kiewit Scholars program through UNL’s College of Engineering,” Naughtin said. “I don’t think I would have been selected or given the scholarship I got if I hadn’t taken so many college courses at Mid-Plains. I always encourage my high school friends to take dual credit courses and slip the fact that I did when applying for scholarships. Awards committees recognize and appreciate the dedication and intensity that comes with this kind of work.
Naughtin isn’t the first in his family to receive an associate’s degree before a high school diploma. He follows in the footsteps of his brother Dominic and his sister Bonita.
Staples began taking MPCC math classes through dual credit in the sophomore year in high school.
“Since then, I’ve taken additional double-credit courses here and there,” Staples said. “This year, Kaci Johnson [MPCC Broken Bow Campus administrator] visited my school and told me that if I could take a few more courses I could get an associate degree from Mid-Plains. It’s still really shocking for me to have been able to do that. I never thought this would be an opportunity for me. »
Like Naughtin, Staples had a strong support system among its instructors.
“College classes weren’t necessarily harder, but they were different because I took most of them online,” Staples said. “The only classes I took in class were math classes, an anatomy class, and a certified practical nurse course over the summer at the MPCC’s Broken Bow campus. Despite the online format, the instructors were very approachable and always provided one-on-one instruction. They responded quickly whenever I had a question.
She plans to study actuarial science, which is the study of identifying and assessing risk, particularly for insurance companies and pension plans.
“Kaci helped me transfer all of my classes,” Staples said. “The whole dual credit process went smoothly, and college will definitely be a lot more affordable because of it. I had to put more work into college courses compared to high school, but that will also be an advantage. It helped me focus and be responsible and gave me an idea of what college is like so I know what to expect. Double credit prepared me for the next step.
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