Messalonskee senior graduates college before high school

Ella Buck

submitted by Tania Buck

Ella Buck, is a senior at Messalonskee High School, in Oakland. Since the age of eight, Ella has known that she wanted to be a nurse. When Ella was a sophomore, just 14 years old, she took her first “college” class through the Early College Program. This program allows high school students to take courses that are not offered at their high school, through colleges/universities. Students can take up to 12 credits a year for free. With a passion for nursing, Ella began taking general education courses required for a degree in the field. She took online courses from four Maine community colleges (KVCC, YCCC, EMMC, AND SMCC). More recently, she has taken nursing classes through University of Southern Maine, where she has been accepted into the nursing program for the 2024-2025 school year.

Ella graduated from Kennebec Valley Community College, in Fairfield, with an associates degree in general studies on Saturday, May 11, 2024. She will graduate from Messalonskee High School on June 6, 2024. According to the college, she will be the first high school student in the school’s history, to receive an associates degree before graduating high school. She graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.

Ella will have completed approximately 71 college credits, taking classes year-round for the past couple of years. Because of the agreement between Maine’s Community Colleges and its universities, all of Ella’s college credits transferred allowing her to attend USM, in September 2024, as a third year college student.

If all of this wasn’t enough, while Ella was taking her high school classes, and college courses, she played sports and has been working at the Maine Veterans Home (MVH) for 10 months now. She began with MVH in June 2023 where she enrolled in a CNA certification program. In August, she received her certification, and has been working per diem on the weekends at MVH.

Ella chose not to take AP classes at her high school, as she wanted to take classes that pertained to nursing. Messalonskee only weights AP classes, so none of her college classes were weighted. As a result, despite having a 99.4 G.P.A, she will not graduate in the top 10 of her class. Initially this was hard for Ella to accept, but she knew she wanted to take classes that interested her and ultimately would help her achieve her end goal of becoming a nurse. As a high school student taking a non-traditional path, she had to overcome many obstacles along the way. She was determined, and never gave up.

According to her mother, “Ella does not like being in the spotlight. She doesn’t seek recognition or attention! However, I do believe by sharing her story, it will help others to see that hard work and determination do pay off, and perhaps even more importantly. It’s OK to deviate from the norm and chart your own path.”


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