2016 graduates: Riley Wilkinson — Steamboat Springs teen earns dual degrees | SteamboatToday.com

2016 graduates: Riley Wilkinson — Steamboat Springs teen earns dual degrees

Riley Wilkinson earned an associate's degree from Colorado Mountain College in May, and then picked up her high school diploma from Steamboat Springs High School in June.
John F. Russell

— Even as a freshman, Riley Wilkinson had her sights set on something more than Steamboat Springs High School.

She told her counselor that year she wanted to take concurrent enrollment classes at Colorado Mountain College and pursue an associate’s degree, and by her sophomore year she was doing just that.

Wilkinson, now 18, took two or three courses per semester as a sophomore, which increased to four college courses per semester by senior year, an effort that proved challenging when it came to working out her daily schedule.

“It takes a lot of planning,” said Monica Feagler, Wilkinson’s counselor at Steamboat Springs High School. “It also takes a mature students to be in college level courses.”

Wilkinson would typically take high school courses in the morning before heading off to finish her day at CMC, with many of the college courses earning her credits to move through high school as well.

She also spent three of her four years of high school active with both school and club volleyball teams.

All the hard work paid off this spring for Wilkinson, who graduated from CMC with her associate’s degree and more than 60 college credits under her belt.

Just four weeks later she also picked up her high school diploma.

Wilkinson, who was identified as an advanced learner in the third grade, said the college courses were difficult, but she was up for the challenge.

“Because I didn’t know anyone (at CMC), I didn’t have any distractions,” Wilkinson said.

With her associate’s already complete, Wilkinson plans to take a gap year after graduation before heading to college.

This summer she’ll save money before embarking on a three-month trip to New Zealand in September with a classmate.

“We’re going to immerse ourselves in another culture,” said Wilkinson, whose parents are supportive of the time off following all of their daughter’s hard work.

“They’re very supportive of this and that’s awesome,” she said.

Wilkinson has been accepted to Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, which she has deferred until the 2017-18 school year.

She hasn’t settled on an area of study yet, but said sciences have always interested her.

“I really like hands-on stuff,” Wilkinson said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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