Dual Enrollment Student Ahead of Schedule | Thomas Nelson Community College

Dual Enrollment Student Ahead of Schedule

May 26, 2022
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Abby Blount earned her associate degree from Thomas Nelson while in high school. The plan for that was devised years earlier, when she was in second grade.

Her parents, Joe and Rebekah, had friends who were familiar with the College and its dual enrollment program. They liked what they heard.

“It was something that was on our radar and knew was a possibility for her,” Rebekah said.

Abby and her four younger siblings are home-schooled, and the decision was made to combine their fifth- and sixth-grade curriculums, and their seventh- and eighth-grade curriculums. That would allow them to start their high school curriculum when they were in seventh grade.

“That set them up so by the time they were in 11th grade, they would, hopefully, be ready for Thomas Nelson,” Rebekah said.

The Blounts, who live in Newport News, need not worry. Abby was more than ready. She excelled, with a 3.95 GPA on the way to her liberal arts degree.

“A lot of people ask me if it has taken away from what I’m going to do for the next two years,” Abby said. “I honestly feel like it’s worth it.”

While her parents knew of the plan for a number of years, they didn’t inform Abby until she was in middle school. She was glad the decision wasn’t sprung on her.

“I don’t think it would have gone as smoothly if my parents had been, ‘This is what you’re doing’ right before I started,” Abby said. “I had a lot of time to prepare myself for it.”

It was intimidating at first being in a college environment with older students, but she enjoyed it.

“The adjustment wasn’t bad,” she said. “I understood I was going to be surrounded by people from different walks of life and at different points of their life than I am. I just had to act like an adult.”

One aspect of that, which was stressed by Joe and Rebekah, was all communications with her professors were to come from Abby. It wasn’t the parents’ responsibility anymore. Initially, Abby was nervous working with her professors.

“I very quickly found out how much they wanted me to succeed,” she said. “ And it really helped with the process of getting my degree.”

The first class Abby took, a college success skills course recommended by adviser Linda Hubbard, was crucial. Abby said that was the best decision she made at the college.

“Not because of the class,” she said, “but because it was a pass/fail class, it was very low pressure for my first Thomas Nelson class.”

The class was held in the summer when Abby had little else going on. Among the things she learned were how to access her books, how Canvas works, how to email professors, and the importance of attending office hours.

“It really jumpstarted the fall semester because I had a general knowledge of what I was getting myself into,” she said.

Attending Thomas Nelson surrounded her with people who wanted to be in college, who wanted to learn.

“It was interesting because I was in a college (where) everyone there wanted to be there,” she said. “And everyone chose the classes they were in.”

That atmosphere fostered a love of learning, which she will continue at the College of William & Mary, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in arts and music. Her goal is to open a piano studio to teach lessons.

“I loved all of my professors,” she said. “I ended up enjoying subjects that I never thought I would like. My professor of pre-calc (Elizabeth Hicks) managed to make me enjoy that class, and I am not a math person.”

Her French professor, Sylvain Poosson, and philosophy professor, Joshua McDonald, also made lasting impressions. She’s considering a double major in French and philosophy in college.

“I just absolutely fell in love with the subjects,” she said.

Hubbard, her adviser, has been there from the beginning.

“I am so impressed with this talented young lady,” she said. “What a perfect example of how hard work and motivation can pay off.”

Abby is active in her church and recently earned the Citation award from Awana, the club’s highest honor. She’s glad she didn’t go straight from high school to a four-year institution. Attending Thomas Nelson allowed her to take risks.

“I would have never taken an astronomy class at William & Mary, but I did at Thomas Nelson,” she said. “I would not have had the guts to take a calculus course. It opened my eyes to a lot of subjects I really enjoy, and it’s opened up a lot of ideas for future career paths.”

The plan is for her siblings to do the same. In fact, one of her sisters already has enrolled for the fall semester.

Rebekah can’t say enough good things about Thomas Nelson.

“She was prepared and she was ready (for Thomas Nelson),” Rebekah said of Abby. “I think she’s prepared and ready (to start at W&M). It’s been a great and rewarding experience.”

Abby agrees.

“I think it was really good and I’m really happy I had the opportunity to do it,” she said.