Graduation season is a busy time for a lot of local students. For Jared Daigre, this month is twice as busy.
Above, Jared Daigre, 17, of Fayetteville is an Eagle Scout with a college degree. Photo/Submitted.
The 17-year-old from Fayetteville is actually doing things in reverse order compared to most of his peers. He received an associate’s degree May 8 from Middle Georgia State University, and this week he will walk across the platform at Fayette County High School to get his diploma.
How did he do that? By taking advantage of a program at MGSU that is unique in the entire state.
Georgia Academy is a residential option for high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit toward a bachelor’s degree and includes a path to earn an associate’s degree from MGSU. It is different from other dual-enrollment programs where students take some college courses either online or at a college close to home.
The program’s full name is Georgia Academy of Arts, Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences (formerly known as GAMES). Jared first discovered its existence in seventh grade, when it was still based at the University of West Georgia, and by tenth grade he got an invitation to visit the MGSU campus and learn more about it.
There are stringent academic requirements, as the entire program houses 45 students in a given year. That means about 20 or so openings are available every summer. The application process includes an interview with the student and his or her parents to determine if it is a good fit.
Once that happens and a student is selected, the offer is made that day, according to Regina Daigre, Jared’s mother. “You don’t have to go back home to wait and see.”
Jared was accepted in the summer of 2016 and made the move to his new home for the next two years. Georgia Academy students live in a residence hall reserved specifically for them, with boys on one floor and girls on another. Each floor is monitored and only Academy students are allowed in their dedicated areas, which include their own study hall and computer lab with key card access among other amenities.
“It’s very well covered,” Regina Daigre said in regard to safety and security. “The building is dedicated for them to study.”
Despite the excellent surroundings, Jared’s parents were understandably nervous about letting him leave home for college at 15. “It was a tough decision to make as a parent, but we knew if he didn’t go after tenth grade, he wouldn’t go,” Regina said.
While it is not required for students at Georgia Academy to select a major, some do. But there are only a few specific associate’s degree programs to choose from.
Jared began with information technology but switched to psychology after a while. He wrapped up his senior with what his mother called “a tough load” of classes in both areas. His plan is to eventually go to medical school with a focus on neuroscience.
Georgia Academy students receiving associate’s degrees participated in the same ceremony as the other MGSU graduates. They are referred to as Academy students but not as high school students.
As it is the only residential program for high school students at any state college in Georgia, parents pay only for the housing, meals and living expenses. Tuition, textbooks and mandatory fees, with the exception of course-specific fees, are paid for by the Georgia Student Finance Commission, according to the Academy’s website.
After graduating Friday from Fayette County High School, where he has not attended a class in two years, Jared will begin his junior year of college this fall at Mercer University in Macon, where he has a merit scholarship worth $72,000, his mother said.
Oh, and in whatever spare time he has had of late, he fulfilled the requirements for Eagle Scout and that designation became official April 30.
In addition to being thrilled about her son’s achievement, Jared’s mom wants more local students to investigate what Georgia Academy offers as she feels many of them simply don’t know about it. For more information about the program, visit https://www.mga.edu/georgia-academy/index.php.