Eryn Yarrell will graduate from Hayfield High School in Alexandria this June. There’s one thing she needs to do before high school graduation, however, and that is to graduate from NOVA on May 15.
Eryn is a stand-out NOVA dual enrollment student who has worked hard earning her high school diploma and her associates degree simultaneously. But she doesn’t feel she missed out on the seminal activities associated with being a high schooler. She said she prioritized the things about high school that were most important to her, and she made sure she didn’t miss any of those. In fact, she will go to prom on the Saturday before her NOVA commencement. This fall, she will head to North Carolina A&T on a full-ride Cheatham White Scholarship. Her scholarship will cover the cost of tuition, books, expenses, transportation and, the icing on the cake, all expenses for a study abroad opportunity.
Eryn is a military kid who had moved seven times before fifth grade. The oldest of two children, her younger brother is currently a sophomore. Her parents are both active-duty Air Force. Dad is a personnelist stationed at the Pentagon and working for the Secretary of the Air Force; and mom is in senior leadership development at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. They were due to get orders to transfer to the next stop, but they were able to get an extension to allow Eryn to graduate from high school (and NOVA).
Ultimately, she has her sights set on med school to become an Ob/GYN specialist and then to serve overseas with Doctors Without Borders, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or a similar humanitarian organization. She just wants to help women who desperately need medical care. Eryn’s top choices for med school include Meharry Medical College (Nashville), Howard University or Morehouse College (Atlanta).
She learned about NOVA’s dual enrollment program at a high school back-to-school fair. The NOVA/Mason partnership caught her eye, and she began talking with a NOVA counselor. After that, she was hooked on the idea of doing high school and college at the same time. And her parents say they don’t mind that she’s saving them two years of college tuition.
Among her NOVA classes, Eryn says she really enjoyed Bio-101. Generally, if science doesn’t involve studying the human body, she is not that interested. However, her bio instructor did a really good job of keeping her attention. “He made the class very interesting and lively.” Also, her Art History and Appreciation prof. was very enthusiastic. “She made it really interesting. I was able to see art differently. I was able to see little things I wouldn’t have noticed before.”
“But this whole thing wouldn’t be possible without Katie Aimone (NOVA’s dual enrollment coordinator) advocating on my behalf,” she said. “She had to go to the dean of the department to get special permission for me to start dual enrollment early. Normally, you can’t start until you’re a junior, but I started when I was a sophomore. She had to convince the dean that I was able to do the coursework.”
Asked what advice she would give other high school students who are considering dual enrollment at NOVA, Eryn says, “Procrastinating is not a time management issue, it’s an emotional regulation issue. Regulate your emotions, analyze how you are feeling and move forward. Feelings are meant to be felt,
but they are not meant to tell you what to do. It’s okay to feel how you’re feeling, but your emotions shouldn’t drive the decision to make. Make decisions based on your long-term health not on short term circumstances.”
Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.edu, or call 703.323.3000.