|Year of Entry: 2006
||Age at Entry: 14
||Hometown: Sandy Hook, Virginia
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- / I took the one less traveled by, /
And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
I quoted Robert Frost in one of my entrance essays when I applied to the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) at Mary Baldwin College. While I thought I understood what foregoing high school and opting to go straight to college meant, it is only now, in retrospect, that I can even begin to fully comprehend what this choice has meant to me.
I first learned about PEG in 7th grade. The middle school guidance counselor introduced the program to the identified gifted students in my class. Then she pulled me to the side and told me that she thought I should truly consider this avenue. It seems humorous to me now, but I felt I was too young for college then. Yet, one year later, I decided I was plenty old enough.
More Than Scratching The Surface
I did not earn straight As in middle school. It wasn’t because I wasn’t capable; it was because I was frustrated. I knew the in-depth study allowed in college would enable me to satisfy my natural curiosity. There is a part of me that is not satisfied with scratching the surface; the part of me that wants to delve deeply into topics.
I didn’t fit in with my peers. I didn’t want to gossip. I didn’t care who liked whom, what the in fashion was, or taking sides in someone else’s quarrel. In short, I didn’t (and don’t) thrive on drama. Participating in PEG would save me from high school.
When I told my mother I was ready to apply for college she said, I could apply, I could get in, but that didn’t mean I was going. I really had to demonstrate my desire. I worked on my application. I studied for the SAT and ACT. My mother’s concern was long term. She knew I would be happier in the college environment than in the high school. She knew I got along better with older people who more often shared my interests. She was worried about what would happen by the time I was 40. My maternal grandmother went to school early, started a family early, worked full time early and had a mid-life crisis early. My mother did not want me to follow my grandmother’s path.
Since I applied late, it was June when I got the phone call saying I had been accepted. I don’t think I realized how much I wanted to attend Mary Baldwin until I got that call. My mother heard it in my voice. There was no way she would say no to my early entry to college. She did, however, have a stipulation. I had to figure out a way to stay in school the “normal” number of years. She was okay with jumpstarting my education, but not my life.
Honestly, I didn’t want to jumpstart my life either. I will never forget calling my parents to ask if I could go to a movie on a school night. They actually laughed! Here I was, essentially emancipated, living away from home, and I was asking to go to a movie.
In 2010, I completed my bachelor’s degree in studio art with an emphasis in electronic art and design and a minor in history. I was thrilled to receive the Eric Matthews Brown award for outstanding achievement in graphic design two years in a row and to be inducted into the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society. I have also completed my master’s degree in teaching. Currently, I am working on pre-requisites for a master’s program in art therapy. All in all, I took my mother’s advice and hope to have two masters’ degrees by the time I would have normally completed my undergraduate education. Coming to PEG has, in the words of Robert Frost, “made all the difference.”