MARIETTA, OHIO—Since middle school Haylee Morgan had ambitions of being her high school class valedictorian. While her academic standing has her at the top of her class, she willingly and without regret relinquished the opportunity to hold the title in order to pursue an even greater opportunity for her future. The Washington State Community College (WSCC) Student of the Month instead opted to get a jumpstart on college through the College Credit Plus (CCP) program.
Morgan is a senior at Warren High School and a full-time WSCC student through CCP, an early college option funded by the state of Ohio that allows 7th through 12th-grade students the opportunity to earn college credits at no cost to them.
With a 4.0 GPA, Morgan is officially first in her class, a rank that traditionally comes with the honor of valedictorian. However, the school has a clearly articulated rule that students must take at least four classes at the high school to be eligible for valedictorian or salutatorian status.
“I’m ranked number one, I get the Top 10 Award, but because all of my classes are here, I cannot be the valedictorian,” shrugged Morgan. While it was a status that she once prioritized above all else, she said she understood her high school’s expectations. “I have no regrets. I’m really glad that I decided to come to Washington State and take early college classes. I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks,” she stated confidently. “Part of the reason I wanted to be valedictorian was to represent my class, represent my school, and be a leader, and I feel like coming here, I’m still doing that. I’m still representing, but I’m just doing it a little bit different.”
Among the benefits, Morgan credits the CCP program with giving her the self-assurance that she’ll be successful when she goes away to earn her bachelor’s degree. “Because of these classes, I feel confident that I’ll be successful at a four-year institution. I’m also saving money and saving some time in college. I want to go to med school, so maybe I can knock a year or two off.” She added that because of her experience at WSCC,” I’m better prepared for life in general.”
Her success in the classroom has not gone unnoticed among her instructors. Touting Morgan as one of the brightest students she has had in her career as an Anatomy & Physiology instructor at WSCC, Biology Instructor Kelsey Lerch raves, “She is always on time, is always prepared, and seems to have a natural instinct when it comes to understanding the incredibly complex inner workings of the human body. Beyond her impressive academic accolades in what I feel is one of the toughest subjects in academia, I am so excited to see where she goes from here and the accomplishments that she will undoubtedly achieve.”
In addition to her full-time student status at WSCC where she maintains a 4.0 GPA, Morgan is a member of Phi Theta Kappa (the official honor society for two-year colleges), plays volleyball for Warren High School as well as a travel team, has a part-time job with a local law firm, and finds time to volunteer in her community with events such as Safety Town and Night to Shine.
This spring, just prior to the pomp and circumstance of her high school graduation, she will walk across WSCC’s stage to receive her general science transfer associate degree. Her plans for next fall aren’t quite concrete as she weighs her options between Ohio State and Capital universities where she plans to major in biochemistry on a pre-med track.