Dual Graduates




Five area students enjoy two graduations this May

Taking college courses in high school is a family tradition in Kaylee Kemp’s family.

Kaylee’s older brother and sister enrolled in dual credit courses from Lake Region, which gave her a firsthand view of the benefit of completing general education courses while still in high school. 

“Both of my siblings encouraged me to take dual credit classes to complete general education requirements to give me more flexibility in my schedule for my bachelor’s degree,” the Cavalier High School senior said.  

But Kemp accomplished more than a head start on her college studies. She’s earning her associate degree. 

Kemp will be joining four other high school seniors making that same accomplishment – and that is a first for Lake Region State College. 

“This is a record for Lake Region State College,” said LRSC President Dr. Doug Darling. 

Jaylen Anderson of Leeds; McKenna Barnick of Jamestown; Kaylee Kemp of Cavalier; Casia Steinhaus of Devils Lake; and Piper Suhr of Cooperstown will all graduate twice in May – receiving their associate degree from Lake Region State College May 12 and their high school diplomas at various dates in May.

Last year, LRSC had its first dual credit student walk across the stage and earn her associate degree while still in high school.
The plan of action to arrive at this accomplishment was similar for all five: online courses along with dual credit courses that were offered face to face in their high school. Students also filled summers with additional courses to make it to the needed credit total.

For Steinhaus, the decision to take college courses started as a way to lighten her future courseload the first year of college.

“After I had taken a few classes, I realized that with the dual credit I had already earned and taking a few summer classes, I would be able to meet the graduation requirements for LRSC,” Steinhaus said.

Anderson started her college endeavor with dual credit courses that she qualified to take as a high school sophomore. She was hesitant about taking more advanced classes online as she enjoys being able to talk to instructors face to face when needed. Those fears quickly disappeared.

“After my first semester all my concerns were diminished. The LRSC instructors were very helpful and the online content well-organized. At that point, I knew that earning my associate degree was possible, so I set my mind to it and got it done,” Anderson said.

A lot of planning takes place for students considering a similar route, said Dan Driessen, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at LRSC and long-time director of the college’s dual credit program. 

“Students and families need to have a healthy conversation about what the end goal is so that LRSC can build a map of the classes for each student,” he said.
Driessen added support from the student’s high school administrators also plays a key role in student success. 

“I like the fact that I finished my degree at Lake Region,” said Piper Suhr of Cooperstown. “I would have felt like my Lake Region education was incomplete without the degree.”

Students must qualify to take college courses in high school. Qualifications include a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. They also must meet the North Dakota University System placement score requirements for enrollment into Math and English courses.

Earning the needed credits takes a great deal of academic commitment. In some cases, a student will receive an Associate in Arts, in other cases it will be an Associate in Science. 

“Whichever direction they chose, we can map their classes out accordingly,” Dreissen added.

Families should expect to spend about $10,000 to complete the associate degree while in high school. 

The investment was worthwhile for Anderson, who is excited to be career ready in a condensed time frame. 

“The best part of getting my transfer degree in high school is only having to go to one year of college at Minot State and two years of clinicals right away. I will be able to join the work force earlier than I ever expected,” Anderson said. 

Completing the credits while still at home saves on higher tuition costs along with room and board expenses incurred when students move to another community for his/her college education.

All five are on their way to universities in North Dakota for the next steps in their education.

Steinhaus will be attending UND and double majoring in Physics and Mathematics. Although she hasn’t decided on a career plan, she’d like to work at NASA or Lockheed Martin. 
“By getting a degree in high school, I have most of the prerequisite courses and electives completed during high school. This allows me to completely focus on classes related to my double major, Steinhaus said.

The others have plans for medical-related careers.

Anderson plans to attend Minot State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Radiologic technology. Her goal is to work in a small North Dakota hospital taking x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.

Suhr is entering the accelerated pharmacy program at NDSU next year. She will also be advancing herself at work, with plans to obtain a medication assistant certification soon. 

This summer she will work as a certified nurse assistant and study for her med aide certification and then I will work as a med aide while attending NDSU. 

“After NDSU I will become a pharmacist, which I hope will be my forever career. If a teaching opportunity is available, I would love to become a college professor,” she said. 

Barnick is on to UND to major in Biology for pre-medicine with hopes to become a physician.

“I have known for a few years that I want to become a physician and being able to get my associate degree has helped me get a head start on that journey,” Barnick said.

Kemp is on her way to the University of Mary in Bismarck enrolling in their accelerated nursing academy program.

“My career goal is to work as a registered nurse in rural healthcare in North Dakota and hope to eventually return to school for an advanced degree such as nurse practitioner,” Kemp said.

Barnick and Kemp said they hope the ability to earn an associate’s degree in high school creates a norm for future students. Kemp added that she hopefully also is blazing a trail for a younger sibling who starts dual credit courses soon. 

“I am very excited and proud of myself for reaching this accomplishment. I have set the standard for my younger sister who will start taking dual credit classes this summer in the hopes of also graduating from Lake Region as a high school senior,” Kemp said.

Lake Region State College’s graduation ceremonies are May 12th at 10:00 am in Robert Fawcett Auditorium. 

Top 3 photos left to right: Casia Steinhaus, Jaylen Anderson, and Kaylee Kemp

Bottom 2 photos left to right: McKenna Barnick and Piper Suhr