15-year-old to graduate from community college

Samantha Holland of Lucedale will graduate from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on May 9. She finishes with highest honors, a 4.0 GPA, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Ordinarily this would mean she is stepping into the world of full-time work.

But there is something remarkable about this student. Samantha is only 15 years old. And she has not yet even graduated from Mississippi School for Mathematics in Science (MSMS) in Columbus. After graduation, she will still have another year of high school before she graduates in May 2020.

How is this possible? This remarkable young woman is a gifted and driven student. Her mom, Cindy Holland, explains, “She is one determined young lady. She has worked hard at accomplishing her goal.”

Samantha and her family knew that she could save money and time taking college classes during high school, using several public school program options available throughout Mississippi. While at MSMS, Samantha set out to take as many courses as she could, as soon as she could.

Samantha started high school classes when she was in 8th grade, using Mississippi Virtual Public School – a state program that offers online classes starting in 6th grade. She had already accumulated 14 high school units by the end of her freshman year at George County High School. She started the Collegiate Academy her sophomore year. She took a full normal course load at the high school, while taking an additional three to five classes each semester at the college for dual credit.

Then she figured out that she could also get a degree by taking advantage of summer programs.

Samantha took an additional six college classes between her sophomore and junior year of high school. She also took and passed two exams through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) this last spring break, earning 14 credits in Biology and Natural Science. This gave her the required courses and total credits that she needed to graduate with both her Associate of Science and Associate of Arts degrees.

“I advanced grades at such a young age that this just feels normal,” she explains.

Samantha even found time to participate in some typical high school activities. In high school she remains a member of the girls’ soccer team. Also she is an avid beach and indoor volleyball player, competing year-round. Samantha also volunteers her time with the American Red Cross, where she organizes blood drives.

She will finish her senior year of high school at MSMS next year, a proud high school graduate. “I am happy to be graduating alongside the first Collegiate Academy students at George County High School.”

She aspires to attend Columbia University or Stanford University, majoring in Biochemistry or Chemistry. She then hopes to attend the Uniformed Armed Service Medical School and serve in the United States Air Force. Her ultimate goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.