Photo by Theo Tate
Kari Laub graduated from Granite City High School and earned associate degrees in arts and science at Southwestern Illinois College this year.
Kari Ann Laub is thrilled to have a break from school this summer.
“It’s awesome,” 17-year-old Laub said. “I haven’t had one in a while.”
For the last two years, Laub has been hitting the books at Granite City High School and the Southwestern Illinois College Sam Wolf Campus in Granite City at the same time. As part of the Granite City High School’s Running Start Program, Laub got an opportunity to earn a degree from SWIC while working toward her high school diploma.
“It was hard work,” Laub said.
Laub graduated with associate degrees in arts and science at SWIC on May 21. A week later, she graduated from GCHS.
“The program comes with the associate of arts and because I’m going to nursing, I took a bunch of science classes which kind of equaled out to me getting an associate’s of science as well as arts,” she said. “I didn’t really plan for it. It just kind of happened.”
Laub was recognized for her achievement at the Granite City School District Board of Education meeting on May 26 and the GCHS graduation ceremony three days later.
“The high school did a very nice job of honoring her for what she accomplished,” said Deanne Laub, Kari’s mother. “Our (entire) family is proud of her.”
The new graduate credits her parents for her big achievement.
“They kind of instilled in me that education should be number one,” she said. “So I’ve always kind of taken that and ran with it.”
Laub joined the GCHS Running Start program when she was a junior at the high school. Her family paid $3,000 for each year she attended SWIC.
“I heard about it through a couple of friends,” she said. “It sounds nice to be able to get out of high school and do something else. So I talked to my parents about it and they were very supportive.”
GCHS Assistant Principal Stacie Miller is the coordinator of the program, which began in the fall of 2012. To be eligible for the program, students must be currently enrolled as a high school sophomore and have a 4.25 grade point average after their sophomore year.
Laub took her college classes, including English, history, college algebra, psychology and more at the Granite City SWIC campus.
“It’s nice because I will be two years ahead of everyone and nursing is such a competitive program, so I kind of have an advantage into getting all of the spots and internships,” she said.
Because she was in the Running Start program, Laub didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities.
“I was studying all of the time, so I didn’t have much free time,” she said.
After a total of five semesters at SWIC, Laub finished with a 4.0 grade point average.
“I took her out of the honors and some of the other stuff and she actually worked harder to get the ‘A’ because she knew she had to,” Deanne said. “When she went to SWIC, she said, ‘I want that 4.0.’ She’s very dedicated and every night, she studied. She was so driven with it and she wanted that 4.0 grade point average.”
Laub said she was happy to graduate from high school on May 29. She finished with a 4.957 GPA at GCHS.
“Walking across the stage kind of solidified all of the hard work that has been done,” she said.
Laub’s break from school will end this fall, when she will be attending the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College in St. Louis. She’s setting her sights on getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“Somebody said she could have gone to the SWIC nursing program, but the problem was she would have been behind in a way because she would have gone to McKendree to get her four year (degree),” Deanne said. “This way by going to Goldfarb, she’s got five semesters. She’ll be 19 if all goes well and have her bachelor’s. She’s been working at it.”
Laub plans to be a pediatric nurse in the future.
“I always wanted to take care of people,” she said. “I always liked that aspect of helping them in their time of need.”