MCCC’s Dual Enrollment Program expands student’s horizon

By Theresa Katalinas

Christa Frederick will receive her Liberal Studies associate’s degree from Montgomery County Community College before she participates in high school graduation ceremony with her peers at Lighthouse Christian Academy.

Frederick, 17, of Berks County, who will graduate from Montco in May, began taking Dual Enrollment courses at the College in fall 2016. Her mother, Tina Frederick-Herbst, and father, Richard Herbst, teach Psychology and Math, respectively, at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown.

"My mom and dad always talked to me about dual enrollment when I was younger," Christa said, adding that once she tried it, "I didn’t want to stop. I love it here."

"I was pretty well-prepared," Christa said, about starting at Montco, also adding that learning time management really helped. "You have to keep track of your assignments on your own. You are not meeting everyday like you do in high school."

She successfully balanced three or four high school honors classes with a 12- to 15-credit college class schedule in any given semester. Even though she was already in college, Christa still prepared for and took her SATs.

Christa, who will graduate with a 3.9 GPA, took college classes practically year-round, even during the winter and summer semesters. Her ambition and love of learning pushed her to work harder in her high school and college classrooms.

After two years and many college courses under her belt, Christa’s hard work is paying off. Not only is she transferring to a four-year college in the fall, Christa graduated from Lighthouse Christian Academy a year and a half earlier than her original graduation date of 2019 with a 4.0 GPA.

To high school students contemplating Dual Enrollment, Christa said, "Do it, absolutely! It’s well worth it. You will come out with an incredible amount of knowledge and skills."

Coming from a small high school, Christa said the college’s cafeteria was a bit intimidating on her first day. Soon after, it became a place for her to hang out and unwind with other students.

"The first day she came by asking my husband and me which room or building her classes were in," her mom said. "But, by the next time Christa’s classes met she knew exactly where to go."

In addition to finding her way around campus, her mother said Christa also found greater self-awareness and self-confidence.

"The change in her confidence has been astounding," her mother said. "I really attribute it to the time she spent on campus and her professors."

At Montco, Christa is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She also serves as Beta Tau Lambda vice president of membership. She previously had been a member of Kutztown Strong and the Leo club at her high school. She also enjoys volunteer work. Participating in fairs and seeing school productions are other highlights from her time at the West Campus.

"There’s a lot of fun here at West Campus," she said.

Along with Psychology classes, Christa said she really liked her English classes. Her passion for writing will come in handy if she pursues her goal of attending law school. When asked to choose a favorite professor, Christa said, "They honestly were all wonderful".

Looking ahead, Christa is trying to decide between transferring to Penn State University, Kutztown University or Chestnut Hill College this fall. She has been offered several academic scholarships, which her family credits to her time at MCCC.

Like Christa, her parents also have a love for Montgomery County Community College. Richard has been teaching at the West Campus since 2004. Tina began working at the campus the following year. "Tina and I met here," Richard said.

Tina had been teaching full-time at Kutztown University. It was during her time filling in for an ill professor at a community college that Tina realized she wanted to make a change.

"The students were so energetic," Tina said of community college life. "They were so engaged in the learning process. I felt the community college was really where I wanted to be."

Post-graduation, Christa may continue taking classes at Montco.

"She just isn’t ready to give Montco up yet," Tina said.

At the outset, Tina wanted Christa to choose her educational path. "We wanted to make sure it was her decision," Richard said. "We didn't want to influence her."

"Christa chose to become a Dual Enrollment student," Tina said. When asked about her experience at Montco, Christa said, "It was everything I could have asked for and more."