May 1, 2015
Frankenmuth 19-year-old to graduate from SVSU, high school simultaneously; MSU grad school up next
Sarah Klammer will become one of Saginaw Valley State University’s younger graduates this spring, when the 19-year-old earns a bachelor's degree in economics at the same time she earns a high school diploma from the Academic and Career Education Academy in Midland.
“I'm very excited,” said Klammer, who will graduate summa cum laude. “It's been a wonderful opportunity for me and has opened the door for me to experience a lot of things I would have otherwise missed out on.”
In the fall, the Frankenmuth resident will begin studying for a master's degree from Michigan State University's Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics program.
“We're excited to see what the future holds for her,” said Jennifer Pahl, SVSU’s director of admissions who helped Klammer navigate the dual enrollment process. “She's an exceptionally talented young lady. She took advantage of all the opportunities that SVSU made available to her, and excelled in them. She's been a great addition to our campus community.”
Klammer credits SVSU faculty members – especially Kylie Jaber, Weiwei Liu, and Kaustav Misra, all of the economics department – with providing the inspiration and impetus for her application to MSU, where she was offered full funding as well as a research assistantship.
“They not only taught me so much in my years at SVSU, but were also extremely helpful to me in navigating through the ins-and-outs of finding a program and funding,” said Klammer, who plans to pursue a career as a professor in higher education.
The faculty in Klammer's department helped her identify opportunities for growth, she said. For instance, Klammer engaged in undergraduate research with Liu, analyzing housing evaluations in relation to their proximity to bodies of water.
“The great thing about the economics faculty is that they are all willing to help you, even if it isn't about economics,” Klammer said.
Receiving a high school diploma and bachelor's degree simultaneously is a feat Klammer was able to accomplish thanks in part to her enrollment at PACE, a dual enrollment program.
She was accepted into the program as a high school sophomore at age 15 after spending her freshman year at Frankenmuth High School.
For the most part, PACE allowed Klammer to take college-level courses that met the requirements for high school-level studies. As a result, she only stepped into high school hallways to attend dances and athletics events with her teenage peers. Her studies happened in higher education settings.
“One nice thing was that I could pick up my friends from high school and take them to lunch,” Klammer said.
PACE paid for Klammer's tuition and fees. The program's director, Nancy Paris, said she believes Klammer is the first person in the United States to receive full funding from a dual-enrollment program while completing a high school diploma and bachelor's degree simultaneously.
Klammer credits Paris and SVSU’s Pahl with helping her to achieve her undergraduate goals at such a young age.
“Without Nancy and Jennifer - and the support of my family - I never would have been able to come so far so quickly,” she said.
Klammer served as a tutor at SVSU's Center for Academic Achievement and was selected as vice president of the school's recently-founded Economics Club. She also was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an international college honor society for business students.
At a Career Services fair on campus, Klammer connected with organizers for the Frankenmuth Farmers Market, where she now serves as the market activities coordinator.
Klammer isn't the only member of her family to participate in the dual-enrollment program. Her older sister, Leahana, is a member of the program and will complete her bachelor's degree in communication at SVSU in December. Her younger sister, Rachel, is currently enrolled in the program and is expected to graduate from SVSU in spring 2016.