Malerie’s first experience with a college final exam involved the analysis of ethics in the movie “Fight Club.”
“I took Ethics in Literature at Howard Community College, and we did a lot of interesting coursework,” she says. “It was really exciting to see a college classroom and see how flexible the teaching could be. It was a fun class.”
The experience was especially memorable because Malerie took her first college course while in high school, during the summer after completing ninth grade. While the JumpStart dual enrollment program had not yet started between Howard Community College and the Howard County Public School System, Malerie and her parents advocated for the opportunity. “It sparked my interest and made me think, ‘If this is what they’re doing in an English class, I wonder what it’s like in chemistry or others class,’” Malerie says.
After graduating from high school, Malerie got accepted to several four-year universities, but decided to take a gap year to work on a service project. She then continued her studies at HCC, earning enough credits to meet general education requirements and prerequisites to achieve a bachelor’s degree on an accelerated schedule from The College of William & Mary – her top choice for a four-year college. She also earned a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Virginia in 2018, completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just four years.
“HCC allowed me to advance my education while figuring out what I wanted to do, and it helped me prove that I could succeed at William & Mary—plus it was affordable,” Malerie says. “Also, because I knew I wanted to attend William & Mary, I looked at the curriculum ahead of time and mapped out the classes so it was easy to transfer those credits over.”
In Malerie’s current role as an academic advisor at George Mason University, she has become a strong proponent of dual enrollment and community college opportunities for high school students. She has a particular passion for supporting first-generation college students, and in presentations and talks with prospective applicants, she often emphasizes the value of these programs.
“It gets you experience in the college classroom, the ability to earn college credit, and it can save you money,” she says.
Malerie also has seen the benefits of her younger sister’s current experience in HCC’s JumpStart program as a high school sophomore.
“She took a statistics class at HCC and found she’s really great with numbers,” Malerie says. “Finding out that you can take upper-level courses with college students and get some of the best grades in the class is very empowering.”
Malerie encourages all students to take advantage of the opportunities at HCC and points out that taking college courses provides an especially great opportunity for high school students who may want to gain college experience and credits without having to rely on standardized testing as in Advanced Placement courses.
“If you want to challenge yourself, get a taste of college, and earn some credits, definitely go ahead and do dual enrollment,” she says.