5 Star Student: Young college graduates

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At Lee High, students have the option of taking college course while in high school through Mountain Empire Community College.

This year, three graduating high school seniors took advantage of the program, and graduated high school with college degrees.

Hannah Martin, Claudia Alsup, and Emily Graham each went above and beyond the average student by enrolling in MECC courses.

They say they took on the excess work because they wanted to get general college education classes out of the way. Now, when they go for a four year degree, they can focus solely on their majors.

"I don't have to worry about being distracted by English papers or computer classes that aren't oriented towards what I want to do in the future," said Emily Graham.

Lee High's counselors say only a handful of students can handle the workload of college classes.

"There were a lot of days that I would go home, sit down and start working on homework. I would take a break to eat, and then start working again, and wouldn't go to bed until very late," said Graham.

Hannah Martin worked part time jobs throughout high school, and still managed to finish with enough college credits to get her Associate Degree.

"It was really hard managing work and school. I would stay up later at night studying and would do homework on my breaks," said Martin.

Some of the MECC classes were available online, some only on campus.

"If you ended up going to Mountain Empire for a class, you were in there just as a regular student, nobody knew you were still in high school," said Claudia Alsup.

"I felt like it was a good steppingstone into college because now I've had college classes and I know how to study for them," said Graham.

Out of their high school class of 120 students, Martin, Alsup, and Graham were the only three to graduate with college degrees.

"I'm really proud. I worked really hard," said Martin.

"You're going to complain a lot during the process, and you're going to regret doing it, but trust me it is worth it," said Graham.

All three of the students are going on to nursing related fields.

If you know an outstanding student like Martin, Alsup, and Graham, send an email to

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