Daisy McDonagh graduated on Saturday with a 63-credit associate’s degree from Community College of Philadelphia.
On June 11, McDonagh will graduate from MaST Community Charter High School.
That’s right, the 18-year-old from Holme Circle has become a college graduate before being a high school grad.
McDonagh is among 99 dual-enrollment students from three city high schools who graduated from CCP in a virtual ceremony. On Thursday, she is scheduled to take part in the CCP Grad Walk at the college’s main campus gymnasium.
The teenager learned of the three-year, dual-enrollment program when she was in eighth grade. She applied as a freshman, passed the enrollment test and was accepted.
“Personally, I really enjoyed it,” she said of the program. “I really enjoyed the challenges CCP posed.”
There are about 35 MaST sophomores, juniors and seniors in the program. Those accepted get to choose to study either health care or business.
McDonagh was among six MaST seniors who earned an associate of arts degree in health care studies. The other four studied business.
“The 10 of us graduating became a mini-family,” she said.
McDonagh earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average and will take 40 credits with her to Union College (Nebraska).
MaST students in the program spend most of their days at CCP’s Northeast Regional Center, 12901 Townsend Road, taken there by a MaST van. They also take some classes at the high school, though McDonagh said she missed having lunch and hanging out with her classmates.
CCP has been shut down for in-class learning since March 2020 due to the coronavirus, and McDonagh acknowledged she was not a big fan of virtual learning due to the lack of personal interaction with instructors and classmates. Still, she said the program features a great support system that makes the workload manageable.
Megan Barbano-Maxwell, CCP’s manager of K-16 partnerships, said the program allows high school students to be challenged and get a feel for what it’s like to be enrolled in a four-year college.
“It gives students the opportunity to experience education in another way,” she said. “It really builds their confidence and gives them a head start while in high school.”
Barbano-Maxwell said McDonagh is typical of the MaST students who have graduated from the program over the years.
“It’s a valued partnership for CCP,” she said. “It’s really a great model. They all do very well every year. They’re all committed.”
McDonagh has attended MaST’s campus at 1800 Byberry Road since she was in kindergarten. She has two younger sisters, one in seventh grade and another in 10th grade who is also part of the dual-enrollment program at CCP.
At MaST, she has a 4.4 GPA. That, along with her performance at CCP, led to a full academic scholarship to Union College, located in Nebraska’s capital city of Lincoln.
McDonagh said she experienced a seamless transition at MaST, from elementary to middle to high school. She said the relatively small senior class of 107 is close, and she praised the teachers. She takes her one high school class this semester virtually due to her CCP schedule, and is looking forward to the in-person outdoor graduation next month.
“I really enjoyed my time at MaST,” she said. “You know everyone, and we get a really good education.”
McDonagh will major in International Rescue and Relief with a Pre-Physician Assistant emphasis. New students arrive Aug. 17, and classes begin six days later.
Though she’ll start with 40 credits, she plans to spend four years at Union.
“I want the college experience,” she said. “I’m so excited to be back in the classroom. It’s been over a year.”
After college, she would like to practice with underserved populations, particularly women and babies, in a developing nation, perhaps South Africa.
John Swoyer III, CEO of MaST, praised McDonagh as very intelligent. Swoyer is a big fan of the partnership with CCP.
“Dual enrollment has become a highlight point of the school,” he said. “It’s a good, strong talking point. It’s become part of our mission. It’s a point of pride. We’re fortunate to be part of it. It’s a tribute to the students, how hard they work. It’s been a great program. Students get a lot of benefit.” ••