June 8, 2019 9:59:01 PM
MACON -- During her junior and senior years at Noxubee County High School, Macon resident Jaykanze Bryant, 18, was also enrolled at East Mississippi Community College.
During that time she held down a job and, for a few hectic months, worked a second job.
On May 4, Bryant graduated from EMCC with an associate's degree. Three weeks later, on May 24, she received her high school diploma from Noxubee County High School.
Bryant, who plans to attend Tougaloo College north of Jackson and then enroll in medical school, said she was motivated in part to earn her associate's degree as quickly as possible. But she had other reasons as well.
"My goal was to prove to people that you don't have to leave your hometown to do great things," Bryant said. "You can be great exactly where you are. You just have to be disciplined and dedicated to accomplishing what it is that you want to do."
She acknowledges that managing the demands of high school, college and work was rough at times.
"There were days when I was like, 'I don't want to do this anymore,'" Bryant said. "But I had an amazing support system to fall back on that helped me get through. My parents were a really big help and I had some great teachers."
Bryant earned her associate's degree by taking online courses available at EMCC. Dual enrollment/dual credit classes are also offered at most high schools in EMCC's district, which encompasses the counties of Clay, Kemper, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Noxubee and Oktibbeha.
"Dual credit/dual enrollment classes allow high school students the opportunity to get an early start on their higher education while being exposed to college while they are still at home," EMCC Associate Dean of Instruction James Rush said. "Jaykanze worked very hard to earn her college degree before she graduated from high school and we are very proud of her.
"Not all high school students who take dual credit/dual enrollment classes will graduate from college and high school the same year though and that is OK. Any college classes they complete in advance will be to their advantage."
Bryant offered the following advice to those considering taking dual enrollment/dual credit classes: "You have to be dedicated to do it. You can't do it on a whim. For me, it was all about setting a goal and accomplishing that goal."
Bryant has not yet considered which medical school she would like to attend but knows she would like to concentrate her studies in pediatric surgery. She said she never doubted what career she wanted to pursue.
"I know my purpose in life is to serve others in the field of medicine," Bryant said. "I love, love, love people. I know I am destined to care for people and save lives."
Once she finishes medical school, Bryant would like to come back to the area she grew up in to practice medicine.
"I feel like I could innovate the area and help change it for the better," Bryant said. "I feel like I could do a lot to motivate other children to reach for their dreams and accomplish them."