Xenia 14-year-old earns associate’s degree: ‘All my hard work has paid off’

Lanna Kunzelman with Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin as she receives her associate's degree. CONTRIBUTED
Lanna Kunzelman with Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin as she receives her associate's degree. CONTRIBUTED

Lanna Kunzelman’s accomplishment achieved through College Credit Plus program.

A 14-year-old high school student will be the youngest Clark State College graduate to earn a two-year degree at this year’s commencement ceremony.

Lanna Kunzelman, a Xenia High School student expected to earn her diploma in 2024, will receive her Associate of Applied Science degree from Clark State on Saturday during the virtual commencement, according to a release from the school.

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“Lanna is a unique and outstanding student, and we are very proud that she started at and chose Clark State. We are also grateful to Xenia Schools for their partnership,” Clark State president Jo Alice Blondin said. “Lanna is on track to complete her bachelor’s degree before she even finishes high school. Clark State provided her with a pathway that offered academic rigor and training and delivered incredible cost savings to her family.”

Lanna Kunzelman, 14, graduated from Clark State College this year. Lanna, who's still in high school, plans to major in biology at Wright State and wants to be a neurosurgeon. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Lanna Kunzelman, 14, graduated from Clark State College this year. Lanna, who's still in high school, plans to major in biology at Wright State and wants to be a neurosurgeon. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Kunzelman began taking College Credit Plus (CCP) courses through Clark State the summer after seventh grade.

“I started taking college credit classes as a full-time student when I was 12,” she said. “I feel completely overjoyed that all my hard work has paid off and led to this great accomplishment.”

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Kunzelman said she found a “community” at Clark State and the smaller classes allowed her to understand her courses better and connect with students and teachers. She said she took both in-person and online courses after the college had to modify classes due to the coronavirus, which she said was a “difficult” journey.

“When the pandemic first began in the middle of spring semester last year, it was very difficult to adjust to an online format,” she said. “As time went on, it allowed me to be a better learner and to better adjust to changes. I struggled at first because I had never expected the classes to suddenly switch, and I had intended to take the remainder of my classes in-person.”

Through the college’s gateway transfer program, Kunzelman was accepted into Wright State University for biology and has registered for summer semester classes.

“It can be overwhelming at first, but after all of the help from the advisers at Clark State and everyone else that encouraged and supported me, it became obvious that this is what I was meant to do,” Kunzelman said.

The CCP program allows students to earn college credits while in high school for free. Kunzelman said anyone considering taking the courses should have a strong support system. She said her mom was a huge supporter and helped her practice, drove her to and from classes and made sure she had everything she needed.

“We knew she was intelligent from an early age and she continues to astonish us with her perseverance to any obstacle,” Kunzelman’s parents, Samantha and Anthony, said in a statement. “Lanna will be able to fulfill any dream she wants and we will always be here to support her in any of her crazy ideas.”

Clark State will host a virtual commencement ceremony that will be released at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The class of 2021 features 30 CCP students who will obtain their associate degrees and also their high school diplomas–.

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