Academics

17-year-old finishes PBSC honors diploma in high school

Ahria Bass didn’t just get a head start on her college education while in high school, she completed her Associate in  Arts degree with Honors College distinction.

Now the Palm Beach State College dual enrollment student and aspiring neurosurgeon will cross the stage at the 2 p.m. fall commencement ceremony on Dec. 19 to celebrate her achievement— five months before she is set to graduate from Seminole Ridge High School.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity,’’ said Bass, who also completed by her junior year the requirements for her University of Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) diploma, an international curriculum and examination system that emphasizes the value of broad and balanced study. That qualifies her for a Bright Futures Scholarship covering 100 percent of her tuition. “At first, I didn’t know if I could handle it, but my mom just kept pushing me.  I’ve had so many different options and resources. It’s been really great.”

Bass is among two dual enrollment students graduating this fall and an increasing number with the discipline and stamina to handle the rigors of earning an associate degree while in high school. In the spring, 35 dual enrollment graduates earned an A.A. degree, the highest ever. However, not all dual enrollment students complete the degree requirements the semester before their high school graduation and while also pursuing the Honors Gold diploma, the most rigorous track in the Floyd F. Koch Honors College.

While juggling College and high school, Bass works part time at a shoe store and is actively involved at PBSC in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Psychology Honor Society and Honors Student Advisory Council where she serves as secretary. She also is captain of the varsity cheerleading team at Seminole Ridge and a member or officer of numerous clubs and organizations. She completed her A.A. degree while facing numerous personal challenges for herself and her family.

“Ahria is a hard-working student. She really acclimated nicely to the Honors College community,” said Marcella Montesinos, Honors College manager. “Students see her not as a teenager from high school, but as a respected college student whose opinions and input they value. I’m proud of all that she has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time.”

Bass said she maintains a calendar to stay organized. “I’m not overwhelmed or anything,’’ she said, noting that the only thing she had given up was being on the competitive cheerleading team. “I learned to do homework in between classes. It’s just about time management.”

Fallon Johnson said she is proud of her daughter who, until the birth of her son five years ago, was an only child.  “I’m ecstatic. She’s such a giving person, and she pushes me to want to be better. I look at her as an inspiration. I measure my success by the success of my children,  or in this case, Ahria.”

Bass said her next step is to complete her bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience. She has applied to 11 colleges, including public and private institutions  in Florida, as well as several Ivy League schools and is waiting to see where she will land. In the meantime, she plans to take more prerequisites for her bachelor’s program in the spring term before starting her bachelor’s in fall 2019.

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