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Member Earns Six Degrees in Three Years

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Jennifer Robertson of Mechanicsville, Maryland, joined Phi Theta Kappa because of the opportunities it afforded college students. And the 20-year-old is one to embrace every opportunity that comes her way; in fact, it's exactly how she ended up achieving six associate degrees when she recently graduated from the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) in La Plata.

Jennifer Robertson wears her Phi Theta Kappa Honors Regalia in her graduation photo.

Robertson, who attained her degrees in three years, had planned to major in music education. But because this major was not an option, she double majored in music and secondary education.

"While taking one of my education requirements, I had to find articles about the job that you were looking into, and every article I found was the same: 'Music Programs Being Cut' or 'Legislature Decides to Cut Fine Arts Spending,' " she said. "It really scared me to know that not only are children losing a great education in the arts, but that my dream job was becoming extinct.

"I made the decision to then get an AA in history, so that no matter what I could have a future and still give children the education they deserve."

Robertson then decided to study for associate degrees in Arts and Science, Arts and Science: Humanities, and General Education. She did not take any college courses while she was in high school and did not transfer any advanced placement (AP) credits to CSM. All coursework was completed at CSM's La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick campuses, the Waldorf Center as well as online.

Robertson's achievement was no easy measure. Her mother is a single parent trying to put two children through college on a bus driver's salary. During her first semester of college, Robertson went from class to the hospital and back to class as her grandmother battled with and eventually succumbed to cancer.

"I get a lot of help from FAFSA to get the education my mother wants me to have," she said. "I was still worried that I would not be looked at for colleges."

Her six associate degrees though are proving attractive to transfer colleges, showing that she's a well-rounded student. Coupled with opportunities afforded to her through her Phi Theta Kappa membership, Robertson is now looking forward to joining the University of Maryland College Park this fall.

"Only a few months after I got into Phi Theta Kappa, I received letters from all kinds of colleges asking me to look into them," she said. "There are a lot of scholarships that are offered; and because I am continuing my education, any help would be fantastic."

Robertson plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in History, and she said she hopes to start working towards a second degree in Music Education in her second semester. Her ultimate goals are to teach and to never stop learning. Outside the classroom, Robertson earned Girl Scouts' highest honor, the Gold Award, and has served as the president of the venture crew of a local Boy Scout troop.

"I work at a local high school teaching Color Guard for the marching band, and I love the work I do there," she said. "I would love to work full time teaching in a school and know that I make a difference in children's lives."