19-Year-Old to Graduate College

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BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- A Belvidere teen is getting ready to graduate college two years early and it's all because of a dual-credit program she took in high school.

By the time Ashley Palin graduated from Belvidere North High School, she had a diploma and an associate degree. Two years later at just 19-years-old, when some kids are starting college, Palin is ready to graduate from Northern Illinois University with her bachelor's degree.

"I mean honestly I forget that I'm younger than most of my classmates," says Palin.

The early start is thanks to a dual-credit program called Running Start. The partnership allows students to take classes at Rock Valley College their junior and senior years of high school, earning both a diploma and associate degree upon graduation.

"It really fit better for me, the classes were more challenging and they were really what I was looking for academically," explains Palin.

Palin has been busy at NIU, taking about 21 credit hours a semester, interning and studying abroad in the Netherlands. But she has still managed to squeeze in some social time.

Palin says, "Taking that many credits and being so involved helped me meet the people I would become really good friends with."

They're friends that she traveled to San Diego with to see the NIU Huskies play in the Poinsettia Bowl. Palin graduates Saturday but she's not saying goodbye to NIU.

"I'm going back to NIU for a master's degree in public administration."

Palin is graduating with a BA in Political Science and a double minor in History and Community Leadership and Civic Engagement. She hopes to eventually work for a non-profit.

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