Kate Keegan

Well on her way

Kate Keegan's goal of becoming a nurse is on the fast track, thanks to the JCCC Quick Step program. 

JCCC accepted Keegan, a 2013 Spring Hill High School graduate, into the nursing program straight out of high school due to the 27 JCCC credit hours she already earned in high school. 

She didn't stop there. After graduating high school, Keegan enrolled in seven more JCCC credit hours to lighten her course load during her first year. 

Doing things in an accelerated fashion isn't new for Keegan. She always keeps her eye on the prize -- working as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit at a children's hospital. 

"I figured out my freshman year in high school that I wanted to become a nurse," she said. "All throughout that year, I researched the career. During my sophomore year I got my foot in the door when I received my CNA [certified nurse aide] certificate as soon as I turned 16. I just couldn’t wait to get my CNA." 

Because she wanted to study nursing as soon as she could, Keegan decided to take multiple Quick Step classes at JCCC while still attending high school. 

"I loved having the ability to take classes at the JCCC campus during my senior year of high school," Keegan said. "I hadn’t heard of anyone in my high school doing that, but looking into the JCCC nursing program, coming to the college and actually talking to the counselors here really prompted me to do it. 

“After talking to the JCCC counselors, I was able to go back and talk to my high school counselors to get everything worked out." 

During Keegan's first semester of Quick Step, she enrolled in Intermediate Spanish I and Principles of Chemistry. She took Human Anatomy, Introduction to Psychology and Intermediate Spanish II her second semester. 

"I loved being a high school student and a college student at the same time," Keegan said. "I was able to use a lot of the things I learned on the college campus back into my high school. It was also very helpful because a lot of my friends could come to me and ask what college was really like and what it was like working closely with professors." 

Keegan said the public-university opportunities and the private-college attention makes the expansive learning environment at JCCC very one-on-one and personalized. 

"In all of my courses I’ve been able to get to know each professor," she said. "The professors work with your schedule in case you have any problems and they are very willing to work with you. I love all my professors here at JCCC. They are all wonderful." 

Keegan said Alexander Makarov, assistant professor, made an immediate impression on her when studying human anatomy. 

"I was so worried about taking that class with my high school schedule," Keegan recalled. "His teaching style and his interaction with the class made me feel comfortable in the class and made me feel confident I could do the college class with my high school schedule. He was wonderful." 

The teaching style of Ryan Darrow, adjunct assistant professor, also made learning fun for Keegan in her psychology class. 

"This has to be my favorite class so far," she said. "Every lecture incorporated information on a PowerPoint presentation and that created opportunity for more class discussions. I looked forward to going to class every day. I loved it." 

What other things does Keegan, now in the JCCC honors program and recipient of the President's Scholarship from the JCCC Foundation, tell her friends about JCCC? 

"The campus life is awesome," she pointed out. "I really like being able to move from building to building and not have to go outside when it is rainy or cold. That is always nice. The students also are very friendly. If you don’t know where something is, you can ask another student in the hallway. They are always willing to help you." 

Keegan's fondness of JCCC as a place to take college credits while in high school has spread to others. 

"I have two friends who are currently coming on campus during their senior year to take the CNA course through JCCC as well as a few more classes on campus," she noted. "Like me, I think they realize the benefits of being able to get their college education done a lot sooner."