Many high school seniors look forward to the moment when they step onto their school’s graduation stage and earn their diploma. For Community -R6 senior Paige Meyer, graduation will take on a …
Many high school seniors look forward to the moment when they step onto their school’s graduation stage and earn their diploma. For Community -R6 senior Paige Meyer, graduation will take on a whole new meaning. Paige is the first MACC dual-credit graduate from Community R6 High School, MACC director of dual credit, recruitment and special events Shannon Crist said.
“Paige is actually going to be a college graduate before she graduates high school,” Paige’s mother, Leslie Meyer said with a laugh.
Paige will graduate on May 13 from Moberly Area Community College having earned her associates degree. A little over a week later, on May 22, she will walk with her high school classmates to earn her diploma from Community R-6. Paige said she is excited and cannot believe she was able to accomplish such a lofty goal.
“I feel extremely proud of myself and excited at the same time,” she said. “There’s a lot of emotions that have played a role in this journey the past couple years, but now I’m excited for graduation to be here and to get to walk across both stages.”
This is not a path that many high school students want to tackle. To earn her associates degree, Paige needed to complete 62 credit hours, which included a set number of courses in science, math and English as well as passing an American Civics exam. In typical college student fashion, Paige handled courses during the summer months, took two or three dual-credit hours during her regular high school day, and even juggled additional courses outside of school hours.
“I really enjoyed that we could work at our own pace but if we needed some help our teachers were right there for us,” she said.
With her electives, Paige often found herself in courses that would focus on science. She said her favorite was anatomy because it was challenging.
“It was one of my tougher classes and really pushed me to work harder every single day,” she explained.
For Paige, the additional coursework made sense as she was determined to set herself apart from other pre-med students who would become her competition for a medical school acceptance letter. She said after speaking to Crist about different routes she could take to get into medical school, Paige was more determined than ever to obtain her associates degree.
“I realized if I were to accomplish this, it would eliminate two years of education for me, in an otherwise lengthy journey,” Paige said. “I definitely saw benefits and thought it was worth trying to accomplish, and I’m very happy that I did.”
Despite having at least 9-13 hours of college classes each semester, Paige was still active in extracurricular activities at Community R-6. She played on the Lady Trojans basketball team and was a starter this year, was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, a member of the National Honor Society, and is currently finishing postseason as a jumper and runner on the 4x200m relay on the R6 track and field team. Through MACC, she was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. With her active schedule, Paige explained that sometimes it seemed “impossible” to finish everything.
“It was a struggle most times and I even thought at points that I wasn’t going to be able to get through it,” she explained. “Once I slowed down and really started to use every minute I had, it was not as hard as I made it out to be. I still stayed involved in everything I was originally involved in prior to my classes. I would work on homework during school and come home after practices to get right back to work. I even used most of my weekend time to study.”
As these chapters are closing for Paige, she looks back on her journey with pride as well as being thankful for a very special person, Shannon Crist.
“I’m feeling very thankful that my family was there for me every step of the way and very understanding of the stress I was under,” she said. “I am also very thankful for my MACC guidance counselor, Shannon, for letting me know that this was an option. She has been my rock with helping me figure out what classes to take during which semester, cheering me on when I felt like I was struggling, and checking on me throughout my two years there.”
After high school and college, Paige wants to pursue a career in medicine, which has been a goal for her since she was 10 years old and watched her first episode of the popular TV drama, “Grey’s Anatomy”. From there, she sought every medical show she could find and started expanding her learning, which included an usual Christmas gift.
“I remember the day she walked downstairs to the living room and announced she was going to be a Level One trauma surgeon,” Paige’s father Scott Meyer said. “From that point on, she focused on medicine as a career. I lost count how many episodes of ‘ER’ and ‘True Stories of the ER’ we watched.”
Paige’s mom, Leslie added, “We started out at Christmas a few years ago and found her anatomy coloring books that had fun facts on them about the human body, and then last year, we were able to find her a practice suture kit so she could start mastering different stitches. She is the only child I know who watched movies while practicing sutures.”
After graduating, Paige plans to take a break from college courses for the summer while she continues being a lifeguard for the city of Mexico. In the fall, she will head to the University of Missouri-Columbia and major in biochemistry as a pre-med student. She is also looking forward to studying her courses through MU’s Honors College.
“I feel like biochemistry is the best educational path for me, considering I want to work in the medical field and it’s also something that I am interested in,” she said. “I’m hoping that after I’m finished with biochemistry, I’ll be able to get accepted into medical school and continue my journey.”
What advice does Paige have for other students who are interested in taking this path? She recommends they get an early start on taking courses, encouraging them to apply and begin the summer prior to the start of junior year.
“It does take patience,” she explained. “If you decide that this path is what you want to do, you must push through the whole process. There will be times where you are so stressed, you start to break down, but just keep in mind that it will all be worth it in the end.”
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