Sarah Mearhoff graduated – summa cum laude – from Montgomery County Community College with a Liberal Studies degree the day after her 16th birthday in December 2012. She had already been in college for three years.
The College’s dual-credit program allowed the home-school student to balance college classes with dance classes; her dance commitment is rigorous, amounting to 20 to 25 hours a week. Mearhoff is a member of the Brandywine Ballet Company. She completed all her high school graduation requirements through her academic classes at the College.
She will pick up her degree at ceremonies in May.
The Douglassville, Berks County, student started going to college when she was 13 at Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus in Pottstown.
“I honestly didn’t have any issues being a 13-year old college student,” Mearhoff said. “I remember feeling a little out-of-place when I first began, but I think I was just nervous about taking college classes because I was so young. None of the other students treated me strangely, though; they were just surprised when they learned my age! Also, during my time at the College, I began to feel more comfortable with myself and I became more outgoing. I really do think that attending Montgomery County Community College had a lot to do with me developing this confidence.”
She chose the College because of the academic challenges it offered and because of scheduling flexibility.
“I chose Montgomery County Community College for a number of reasons,” Mearhoff said. “First, I was looking for a challenging academic program. Also, because of my ability to schedule classes earlier in the day, the College allowed me the time I needed to commit to my schedule as a member of the Brandywine Ballet Company.” Her commitment also included an hour commute to the home of the ballet company, in West Chester.
She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and DESA, the Dual Enrollment Student Association.
“I work immensely hard every day – to push my leg that extra inch higher, to give my jumps that extra spring, to make every step look effortless and perfect – that I always emerge feeling so productive,” Mearhoff said. “It isn’t typical to spend hours in ballet class and to work your body to exhaustion on a daily basis, and that’s why I believe that it is my greatest accomplishment; it has instilled in me a longing for hard work and dedication, which will without a doubt benefit me as I move forward with my education and career.”
Finally, the dual-credit program allowed her to accumulate transfer credits, so she will be able to get her Bachelor’s degree in fewer than four years.
“Not only does this save me years, but also a significant amount of money, which is really helpful,” Mearhoff said. “Even though I have by no means had typical high school experience, I am completely satisfied with the choice that I made three years ago.”
In the fall, Mearhoff will attend Mercyhurst University in Erie to major in dance and English. Her dream is to be a professional ballet dancer and to teach dance.
“After I earn my Bachelor’s degree, I really hope to join a professional ballet company,” Mearhoff said. “But if I’m not able, I’ll be happy to become a high school English teacher and be a ballet instructor on the side.”
~ by Neree Aron-Sando