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Home-schooled graduate finishes BCC degree at 17
Graduates celebrate commencement at Fort Leavenworth
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Barton Community College graduate Mary Anderson of the Fort Leavenworth campus is only 17 years old, but she has an associate degree in hand, putting her more than two years ahead of her peers. 

Barton’s six-week sessions offered to high school students through dual enrollment lets students move quickly through their general education requirements. All the material is still covered in the six weeks, which means it’s delivered in a more concentrated format with longer and more frequent meeting times. The condensed curriculum can be challenging for some students, but Anderson said she made it work.

“I had to sacrifice a lot of social time with family and friends to make it happen,” she said. “You’ve got to put your mind to it, but the teachers make it really worthwhile. They help you become the best you that you can be.”

Anderson crossed the stage to accept her associate degree at the Barton Fort Leavenworth campus graduation with her classmates on Wednesday, June 12 at the Lewis and Clark Center at Fort Leavenworth. Barton celebrated the graduation of 25 students during the ceremony, which was in conjunction with the other colleges making up the consortium in the Fort Leavenworth Education Center. 

Business Instructor Jessica Fullen shared a few words with a small crowd gathered at an honors reception prior to the graduation. She encouraged the graduates to view the milestone as step one of their higher education journey.

“This is a room full of stories, and our faculty is truly honored to be a part of that story,” she said. “Your story so far has been a page-turner. Don’t stop here.”

Anderson said she plans to take a gap year as her father, a Soldier in the US Army, transfers to Alaska. 

“I want to catch up on some teenager things I sacrificed, like save up for more college and get a driver’s license,” she said. “Then, I plan to get a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work and serve as an adoption worker.”

She said she couldn’t say enough kind words about Barton’s faculty and staff and the influence they had on her ability to accomplish her goals.

“The opportunity at Barton is great, but the best part about Barton is the community you form,” she said. “I think others should take the opportunity if they can, knowing it’s going to be hard but well worth it in the end.”

Kansas State Senator Kevin Braun delivered the commencement address, congratulating the students on their achievement and wished them the best in the future with three pieces of advice, to celebrate their accomplishments, acknowledge those around them for their help and support and to be open to new possibilities. 

Barton Community College’s association with Fort Leavenworth started in the early months of 2012, with the first college program classes held in October 2012. With the support of the Army Education Center and the Army leadership on post, the Barton Fort Leavenworth campus continues to grow and provide services to the Army, its Soldiers and their families and the Fort Leavenworth community. 

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