MONROE – When Leyna Crane of Indian Trail graduates in May, she will graduate from high school and college.
Crane is one of 44 students who will graduate from South Piedmont Community College’s early college program with her Associates in Science and she was recently honored with the college’s 2012 Academic Excellence Award for her 3.88 GPA.
Crane, who will start Wingate University in the fall, could’ve graduated last year with her class at Porter Ridge High School, but getting two years of college under her belt, for free, was a no-brainer.
“I would definitely recommend it,” Crane said. “Even though you don’t get to graduate with your class because of that extra year, you graduate with students younger, but when you get to college, you’re already ahead of the kids you would have graduated with from your home school.”
Crane, said her SPCC class started with 80 students, only 44 are graduating.
“It’s not for everyone,” she said.
Crane, who turns 19 next month, decided the early college track was for her when she was in the eighth-grade, which is when Union County students can apply for the early college program through SPCC.
Crane was once an avid softball player for 11 years, but quit around 16-years-old to focus on school and her part-time job at Rite-Aid. She was recently trained to be a pharmacy technician and hopes to find a position in a pharmacy soon.
She said juggling student life in high school, plus work, plus college classes, hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been that bad, either.
“It gets challenging when you have a lot of assignments due at the same time, like a lot of online classes have assignments due at the end of the week, and sometimes I work 15 hours a week, or someone is out and I’ll work 24 hours. That’s when school gets stressful,” Crane said.
And when she’s not studying or working, she’s spending as much time as possible with her friends and family. She also reads, knits, and even knows how to juggle – a trick she picked up at a camp one summer.
In addition to everything else she does, she’s also the treasurer/secretary of the Student Government Association at SPCC.
She said she chose the associates in science because she originally wanted to go into pharmacy. But not being a fan of chemistry, she said she’s going to focus on biology when she gets to Wingate.
“I just like to know how the natural system works, how people and animals work,” she said. “I like it better than mixing chemicals.”
While Crane has a good feel for how the college classes work, she said she’s looking forward to dorm life.
“I already know what college classes are like, but living on campus and away from my parents, it will be different,” she said. “I’m excited, but I’ll miss them.”
Crane is the daughter of Trenna and Tracy Buckman of Indian Trail. Both work, but she will be the first in her family to receive her college degree.
“That’s what the early college program is for,” she said. “For people to be the first in their family to get a degree.”
Crane will graduate from Porter Ridge High School on May 10, and on May 11, she’ll walk across the stage at SPCC to get her associate’s degree.