Dual Enrollment Honors Program
Profiles of people and happenings of interest to Dual Enrollment students at Kennesaw State University

Fall 2013
Welcome to the first issue of our online newsletter for DEHP students, families and friends!  Each year, DEHP staff has the privilege of getting to know many outstanding high school students who participate in this program.  DEHP Profiles gives us a venue to share the stories and accomplishments of current students and recent DEHP alums, and to highlight events and tips of interest to dual enrollment students.  Student writer Liza Stepat, a sophomore Communication major and honors student in KSU's Undergraduate Honors Program, brings two stories to you in this issue.  Do you have an athletic or artistic talent we could share?  Have you won a major acKatherine Kinnickademic award or scholarship?  Are you a leader in community service?  Have you jumped into campus extracurriculars?  Or maybe you would you like to write for the newsletter.  Drop me a line and we could feature you in an upcoming issue!

Katherine Kinnick, Ph.D.,
Director, Dual Enrollment Honors Program
2013 DEHP grads excel in the arts
Juilliard, Berklee among college destinations 
Tyler Porch Berklee College of Music 2013
Tyler Porch (Etowah High '13) is now a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.


DEHP has been a stepping stone toward the dreams of several KSU Dual Enrollment alums who are currently gracing the stages and rehearsal halls of some of the most prestigious performing arts colleges in the nation. Four talented students who graduated in the class of 2013 recently shared their experiences and tips for auditioning and winning scholarships to performing arts programs.      

   Ryan Brideau, (Cartersville High School '13), an aspiring opera singer, achieved his goal of going to Juilliard to study voice. The elite New York City arts school accepts just 6.7 percent of applicants. Ryan was also a semi-finalist for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts Program. Ryan used his dual enrollment experience to better prepare him as a classical singer, taking two KSU courses in Italian, a course not offered at his high school.

Ryan Brideau (Cartersville High '13) learned Italian at KSU to help him pursue opera at Juilliard.

  "For Juilliard, the admissions process is based almost entirely on the audition," Ryan said, so he made sure he was prepared with his musical pieces ahead of time, and knew all the text translations of the song. Now living in New York City, he says,  "I'm most excited about the work I'm doing with my teacher. I study with Sanford Sylvan, and am learning so much from him. My lessons are the highlight of my week."

    Tyler Porch (Etowah High School '13), an accomplished guitarist, began dual enrollment his junior year, and was able to graduate from high school a year early. "I loved going to KSU. I felt like I had more control over the usage of my time," Tyler said. Tyler used his extra time to improve his guitar skills and music sight-reading. Although he says he didn't consider himself an especially high-achieving student in high school, "I became very driven to graduate early and pursue higher education in music. I think because I had that drive I was able to achieve at a higher level in my classes."  

   Last spring, Tyler auditioned and was accepted to the Berklee College of Music, the premier U.S. college focusing on contemporary music. The audition process included submission of video performances, a live performance, sight-reading an unfamiliar piece, and an interview where students are asked about their goals and musical background. Tyler took the risk of performing an original piece for his live audition, which paid off.

   Now living in Boston and majoring in guitar performance, Tyler says of his first semester at Berklee, "I would say it's been a very humbling experience. I love being surrounded by talent, especially talent that exceeds mine, because there's that much more to learn from. There's a sense of pride we all share knowing that we've made it this far and we're all pursuing our dreams together.

In This Issue
2013 DEHP grads excel in the arts
Student Profile: Chessa Birrell
Quick Links
 DEHP Ambassadors want you!
DEHP Ambassadors is a student club open to all DEHP students.  It provides social and leadership opportunities for current and former DEHP students.  Ambassadors plan social events to get DEHP students together outside of class, and speak at recruiting events, high school visits and summer orientation about their DEHP experience.  To join, click the link below.
Join Organization  
There are no membership dues. "Like" the student group on Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/KSUDEHP
to get updates on events and ways to get involved.
DEHP officers for 2013-14 are:
President:  Emily Boatman (Lassiter High School)
Vice President:  Rachel Zinney (Woodstock High School)
Secretary:  Kyriea Crudup (N. Cobb High School)
Treasurer:  Donevon Howard (Homeschooled)   
Many thanks to the following students who served as ambassadors at recruitment events this fall:
Reyhan Bailey (Etowah)
Emily Boatman (Lassiter)
Mackenzie Bracket (Sprayberry)
Chiara Grady (Cartersville)
Jacob Karnes (Woodstock)
Briona Keith (Hillgrove)
Destiny McClain (Sprayberry)
Julianna Rogers (Cartersville)
Donovan Sienkiewicz (Adairsville)
Isabelle Talledo (Pope)
Natalie Tikhonovsky (Classical School)
DEHP alums (now KSU students):
Jordan Kenney
Paige Miller
Catherine Rothery
DEHP students invited to de-stress for finals 
Laughter Yoga event
Dec. 3rd, 3:30 p.m.
The DEHP Ambassadors student group is sponsoring a laughter-for-wellness event to help DEHP and Undergraduate Honors students de-stress for final exams.  
   Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher Debbie Ellison will lead the session (location to be announced).  According to Ellison, "In laughter yoga, laughter is simulated in a group through a series of body gestures, breathing exercises, eye contact, and childlike playfulness. It soon turns into real laughter, as laughter is contagious and causes a chain reaction." 
   An RSVP is required, and the first 40 registrants will receive an exam week care package prepared by the DEHP Ambassadors.  Look for an email soon with more details!
Catherine Rothery 2013 flute
Catherine Rothery (Harrison High '13) was selected to KSU's highest-level orchestral and chamber groups as a dual enrollment student. 

 Flutist Catherine Rothery (Harrison High School '13) also dual enrolled at KSU her senior year of high school, and continued at KSU this year to major in music. "I was selected for the KSU Symphony Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble (audition-only ensembles) last year, which allowed me to immerse myself in the life of a music major before I actually graduated high school," Catherine said. She acquired enough course credit through dual enrollment to be able to begin college as a sophomore. In spring of her senior year, a solo audition and letters of recommendation from musical mentors, including the conductor of the Georgia Youth Symphony, helped her to land a scholarship for $6,000 to continue studying flute at Kennesaw State University. "Being surrounded by other talented musicians pushes me to practice harder and to be the best I can be...It is inspiring." Her future goals include building her own home studio, teaching flute, playing in pit orchestras, and recording on a movie soundtrack. 

   Harrison High School classmate Aaron Dowdy also went on to excel in the arts. An actor throughout high school, Aaron auditioned and was accepted to the theatre program at Boston University. Aaron was one of just 28 students to be accepted out of 900 applicants, and also received scholarships totaling $130,000 for his education. "During my senior year, my dual enrollment schedule allowed me to have more time to focus on my acting rather than classes I didn't really need," Aaron commented. Preparation for his audition was rigorous, including preparing two contrasting monologues and an interview. He advises other students interested in applying to selective programs to prepare a resume and application that will stand out, and believes his dual enrollment experience was helpful in this. "[Dual Enrollment] is still helping actually," he commented. "Now I have a year's worth of required classes done, which allows for a more flexible schedule as an upperclassman."  

Aaron Dowdy (left, Harrison High '13) plays John Procter in a high school production of The Crucible.  He was one of just 28 freshmen accepted to Boston University's theatre program. 

   Aaron hopes to make a name for himself in the film industry, but for now, he is enjoying life in Boston. He urges students who can to go away for college. "Being somewhere entirely different adds a wonderful perspective to life," he said. "At a school like this, everyone is coming in barely knowing anyone, so making friends happens naturally. I'm right here with students from Northeastern, Emerson, Cambridge, MIT, and Harvard. Seventy-five percent of the city is under 25, so I love the collaboration of young minds."

   All four students offered tips for current DEHP students with similar dreams and aspirations. Catherine urges students to take advantage of opportunities to get involved in the arts that are available to DEHP students on campus, such as joining orchestra, concert band or vocal performing ensembles. Music, dance and art courses are funded for dual enrollment students by the Move on When Ready Program, and some may be taken for free by if students enroll in the zero credit option. Tyler encourages students with their sights set on prestige programs to persevere through the application and audition process. "If there's one thing I've learned from this whole process," he said, "it is to stick with it. Set a goal and just focus on the step that's in front of you." Similarly, Aaron advises students to "Stay focused, be on time with applications, and don't be afraid to try." Ultimately, Ryan says, "Be passionate. If you truly love your art form, you'll find the place you need to be." - Liza Stepat

Student Profile:  Chessa Birrell
Rolling over obstacles

When asked to talk about the challenges she has faced in high school and college, 17-year-old Chessa Birrell was hard-pressed to think of any. Although most people would view life in a wheelchair a hardship in itself, Chessa has not let it get in the way of achieving her goals in academics, dance and community service.

Chessa Birrell 2
Chessa Birrell (Harrison High School '14) has inspired many who know her.

    At just 6 months old, Chessa was diagnosed with a rare motor neuron disease known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy. "The motor neurons affect the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing," She explains. She has been in a power wheelchair since the age of 3.

   Chessa faces a number of physical challenges as a result of her Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Because of her condition, even the smallest sickness can progress very rapidly. "My sophomore year, I 

got a cold that quickly turned into pneumonia, and I missed three weeks of school," she recalls. "I have to manage my study time carefully because I get fatigued easily," she says. To help combat this, Chessa has an assistant who takes notes and helps whenever needed. "Sometimes I need my aide to write or type for me," Chessa explains.

   At Harrison High School, where Chessa excelled in advanced classes, she
was the only student in a wheelchair for most of her high school career. Now as a dual-enrolled student at Kennesaw State University, she is taking Calculus, Microeconomics, and English. "The major difference that I've found between high school and college is the amount of homework that we get," she says. "In college, homework is something that you have to keep up with on your own, whether it [is] assigned readings that are found on the syllabus or specific work that's due by the next class period." And of the KSU faculty, Chessa comments, "They are very accommodating. Because I need extra time on tests, I take them in the DisAbled Student Support office."

   Navigating KSU's large campus has been a bit more challenging. "Other people don't always think about it, and I am sometimes left behind.Going to new places, I have to find the accessible routes, which are sometimes hidden," she notes. In one of her classes, she found it was impossible to get to the front of the classroom to speak with the professor. "There is a ramp, but the ramp then turns into steps toward the end." Dependency on her wheelchair is a source of concern, Chessa adds. "When it breaks, I'm stuck."

   Although Chessa has many obstacles to overcome on a daily basis, she still makes time to help those around her. Her proudest accomplishment is her work on her Girl Scout Gold Award project, the equivalent to the Eagle Scout award. "I developed a wheelchair-accessible obstacle course for medically-fragile children. I set the course up and tried it out at a FOCUS (Families of Children Under Stress) event," she explained. "The kids and their parents loved it."

   In addition to school and scouting, Chessa is involved in a dance program that joins together able-bodied and disabled girls. "I've been taking dance lessons since I was four years old. It has become a major part of my life," Chessa says. "We have lessons every Friday and then at the end of the school year, we have a recital where we showcase the dance that we work on throughout the year," she explains.

   Chessa continues to set her goals high. She hopes to attend college as a full-time student next year, and aspires to a career with Apple Computers. "I want people to know that I'm intelligent, and I'm pretty much just a typical 17-year-old girl besides the fact that I am in a power wheelchair."

   Spinal Muscular Atrophy is not a degenerative disease, and Chessa explains that a person with SMA will generally remain at the same strength level they possessed at the time of diagnosis. However, "each year researchers are striving to get closer and closer to a cure." Chessa inspires other students to dream big, and persevere through adversity. When asked how she would advise others facing difficult situations, Chessa shared, "I would encourage others to stay positive and don't lose hope!" - Liza Stepat