Graduates to the second degree

By the end of May two good friends – Emily Barske and Therese Kuhlman – will have four new diplomas between them.

The Marshalltown High School seniors will receive their high school diplomas on May 25, a few weeks after receiving their associate’s degrees from Marshalltown Community College.

A college degree even before graduating from high school?

Both are able to reach this accomplishment due to good time management skills.

“It’s worked out really well,” said Kuhlman, who was home schooled and took classes at MHS and MCC. “It’s been busy but it’s been doable.”

An early start was also key on this journey. Barske took her first college course from MCC online the summer before her freshman year in high school.

“I thought I was ready,” Barske said. “It was my choice to challenge myself.”

Kuhlman took her first college course after her freshman year in high school. Both said they are fortunate to be in Marshalltown where the cooperation between the high school and college led them to so many dual credit courses.

“Our school system is definitely fortunate to have that program,” Barske said.

The two friends since kindergarten already have their plans set for more higher education. Barske plans to move on to Iowa State University this fall and study journalism and marketing. Kuhlman will attend the University of Northern Iowa and major in graphic technology.

Both said the college credit they have already achieved gives them flexibility at the universities to explore courses they wouldn’t get to take if they didn’t have the credits earned.

Connie Gardalen, student advisor at MCC, said graduating from MCC before high school is a big accomplishment and a result of a lot of hard work.

“These students have to be very dedicated – to reach our associate’s degree you have to have 64 credits,” Gardalen said. “For a lot of our students it takes them two full years at MCC full-time to graduate.”