Two weeks, two diplomas

·3 min read

Jun. 11—Graduating from Clarkston High School last Saturday was an important milestone for Macy Green, but the two-year college degree she picks up today gets her even closer to her dream.

Green, 18, is one of four high school seniors who earned an associate degree at Walla Walla Community College's Clarkston campus this year, through the state's Running Start program.

A drive-through graduation ceremony takes place on campus tonight, beginning at 5 p.m. Because of coronavirus restrictions, the event is not open to the public. Guests are limited to those in the graduate's party, with as many as two vehicles per graduate allowed.

After a busy two years taking college classes, Green is looking forward to a little down time before enrolling at Washington State University in August. She eventually hopes to earn a degree in veterinary medicine — a process that typically takes about 10 years.

"That's why I'm so excited to get my associate degree and knock two years off," she said.

The Running Start program was created by the Washington Legislature in 1990. It allows qualified students to enroll in college courses and earn credits toward their high school diploma and associate degree, typically at no cost.

"It was really awesome," Green said. "I started my junior year in high school and took all my classes at Walla Walla (on the Clarkston campus). It was a great experience."

College officials said 77 students took classes on the Clarkston campus through the Running Start program this year, with four earning their associate degree.

Students have to take a certain number of math, science and humanities credits to meet high school graduation requirements, Green said, but they still have some flexibility in deciding which classes to take to earn those credits. They're also able to choose some elective classes.

"My most recent class was an animal health and disease course," she said. "I think I could have taken a lot of the classes at high school, but it was really awesome being taught by people with doctorates."

The academic intensity of the college classes is probably higher than in high school, but Green said Walla Walla does a good job of providing support for Running Start students.

"They know you're still 16 and might need some extra help," she said. "But there really is a difference (in intensity). If you aren't ready to work hard, you aren't going to make it."

Green was born and raised in Cape Girardeau, Mo., a few hours south of St. Louis. Her parents also grew up there. The family moved to Clarkston when she was 12, after her father accepted a job as senior pastor at Orchards Community Church in Lewiston.

"I wasn't happy about it," Green said. "But looking back, I'm so glad we moved. I've made such good friends here, and they didn't have anything like the Running Start program."

Green was home-schooled until her freshman year at Clarkston High School. She stayed there until shifting to Walla Walla Community College her junior year. Her two older brothers also participated in Running Start.

Growing up in Missouri, Green spent much of her time on her grandparents' farm, riding horses and taking care of the livestock. That's where she first fell in love with animals.

After moving to Clarkston, she became active in 4-H and FFA, showing horses and other animals. She wants to become a large-animal veterinarian, and maybe have a rescue shelter.

"I've always wanted to be a vet," Green said. "I've never wanted to be anything else."

With two years at Walla Walla Community College under her belt, she's off to a running start to achieving that dream.

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.