LITTLETON, NH – Rochelle Eastman believes in maximizing her education and has followed through by putting herself on a path to earn most of the credits she needs for an associate degree at White Mountains Community College (WMCC) – while in high school. The senior at Littleton High School has leveraged New Hampshire’s online VLACs (Virtual Learning Academy Charter School) program and dual enrollment programs with WMCC to fulfill her love of learning and accelerate her education.
Rochelle has numerous educational interests including psychology, human biology, professional writing, quantitative reasoning and human growth and development. In her junior year – after discussions with her guidance counselor and school principal – she recognized she could finish her high school requirements well ahead of schedule by taking some additional online courses and then use her senior year to take college classes that would give her the remaining high school credits she needed and count towards an Associate degree in Health Science.
“I have a pretty good relationship with my guidance counselor and I was talking with her one day and I think it was my idea to take only college classes. And she said we’d totally encourage and support you with that. We just put together what we needed to make it happen,” she said. “We see a lot of advertisements for e-Start and Running Start courses in high school and I don’t think that a lot of students really know how beneficial they can be.”
In addition to the Running Start and eStart programs, WMCC also offers the Early College program which allows high school students to enroll in regular college credit courses that can be applied to a degree or certificate program or transferred to another institution. These courses are taught by WMCC faculty and costs 50 percent of the tuition cost of the course. STEM Scholarships can also be applied to these courses. Rochelle has taken advantage of both the eStart and Early College programs.
Halfway through her senior year in high school as of January 2021, Rochelle needs only three more courses to earn her associate degree. Of course, she has a plan to do so ahead of her next chapter, which will include earning a bachelor’s degree, possibly in Pre-Med or Biology. In the spring of 2021, she’ll take two courses with WMCC and then one more in the summer. She has applied to Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire and Franklin Pierce University and is also looking at exploring educational opportunities out west, possibly in Colorado or Utah.
“I love learning. I want to learn as much as I can. I hope to be in an environment where I’m surrounded by other people that really have the same drive and motivation that I do, so I can really flourish,” she said.
With one foot in high school and the other in college, Rochelle has valued her time in WMCC classes and has great appreciation for the faculty. “My psychology professor, for example, is always positive and it’s obvious she likes what she’s teaching, which is motivating to me. I’m excited to go to class every week,” she said.
Rochelle had a similar experience in her professional writing class, which provided her with real life skills. “Everything that we’ve done is learning how to do things that I’ll be using in my everyday life. Taking classes with the community college has given me an idea that this is really cool stuff. I’d love learning about this for the rest of my life.”
Outside of the classroom, Rochelle lives a full and busy life of a teenager living in the White Mountains. She’s been dancing for more than 12 years, plays numerous instruments and is an avid skier. She likes to surround herself with other people who want to learn.
“There’s so much more to life than high school,” she said.