TRAVERSE CITY — Karin Chung got her first inkling that daughter Jami was brighter than average when Jami was a toddler.
“She’s always been precocious. At the age of 2 she was talking to adults and thought she was an adult,” said Chung, of Traverse City.
Jami, 17, still isn’t an adult. But last month she graduated from Traverse City Central High School with both a high school diploma and an associate degree from Northwestern Michigan College.
That makes her only the fourth student to simultaneously earn the achievements in retired counselor Don Freed’s 15-year career at Central.
“She’s talented in a lot of ways,” said Freed, Jami’s former counselor. “She was in debate, music and a lot of other activities. She’s a highly motivated kid. She’s one of those kids you were actually trying to encourage to do less instead of more.”
The soft-spoken teen didn’t set out to earn a college degree when she attended her first class at NMC. A self-described "huge math person," she took a summer math course in order to enroll in calculus during her high school sophomore year.
“When I started it was with the intention of going to medical school,” said Jami, whose father and both grandfathers are physicians. “But then I took a few more classes, like underwater archaeology and English-based classes, that let me explore a couple of fields I didn’t even know about. I kind of realized I had a lot more opportunities than I initially realized.”
Earning college credits as part of Central’s dual-enrollment program means she’ll start out as a junior in the fall if she transfers to a four-year college in Michigan. It also saved her family about $50,000 in tuition, Karin Chung estimates. That’s money Jami can apply to earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees.