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College Acceleration Program Leads to Membership

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The option to complete college-level coursework while still in high school was too good to pass up for Phi Theta Kappa member Kara Capasso. It was hard work, but she has now seen the fruits of her labor: Capasso graduated earlier this year with honors from Shawnee High School in Medford, New Jersey, and she has completed an Associate of Science degree with highest honors from Burlington County College.

Kara Capasso

High school student and Phi Theta Kappa member Kara Capasso

"At first, it was just a novel idea, but as a student in many honors and advanced placement courses, I investigated how I could turn this goal into reality," she said. "Then, I stepped it up to earn my AS with a 4.0 GPA."

She actually became a college graduate first: Burlington County College's graduation ceremony was held in May, and Shawnee High School's was held in June.

Shawnee High School offers the College Acceleration Program to its students, allowing them to complete college credits through dual enrollment. In order to meet Burlington County College (BCC) graduation requirements, Capasso also took several college courses online, earning 64 college credits she will transfer to a four-year university.

"This made great financial sense because my first 64 credits cost me much less," she said. "These savings will benefit my financial situation for pursuing my master's degree in the near future."

As a BCC student, Capasso was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa, giving her access to merit-based and transfer scholarships only available to members. But one of the biggest perks of joining was the recognition of the academic achievements for which she'd worked so hard, she said.

"I wear my Chi Iota Chapter t-shirt proudly," she said. "I wore my honors regalia at my college commencement, but then also at my high school commencement, setting me apart since I earned dual diplomas."

Capasso is the definition of a well-rounded student. In addition to her academic achievements, she played varsity volleyball at her high school and has volunteered at the Weisman Children's Rehabilitation Hospital in Evesham, worked in therapeutic horseback riding and served as a camp counselor for families with children from China.

Capasso will enter the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey this fall as a junior, where she will major in chemistry. She anticipates being the first in her graduate in her high school class to earn a bachelor's degree, and she plans to attend graduate school after that, although she hasn't settled on a career path just yet.

"Since I believe my history is the best predictor of my future, I look forward to more wonderful opportunities and achievements ahead," she said.