Dale first Southside graduate to earn associate's while in high school

A photo of Taylor Dale

Taylor Dale’s senior year wasn’t the typical senior experience. She kept two day planners throughout the year to stay on top of her fully loaded schedule as both a high school student and a full-time college student at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville. Dale received her associate’s degree in STEM from UACCB along with her high school diploma this May, making her the first Southside student to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school.

Dale will begin classes at Lyon College in the fall to continue her journey toward becoming a physician. While she could complete her bachelor’s degree in two years, she said she plans to take three years so she can minor in Spanish.

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” Dale said. “My mom found a note that I wrote when I was 7 where I had been playing as a doctor with my grandma. It’s always been my dream.”

Dale started taking concurrent courses with UACCB in the summer of 2015. She decided to make the push her senior year to get her associate’s degree before she finished high school.

“I realized I wasn’t too far from earning the associate’s degree, so I decided to just go for it,” she said.

Dale loaded her schedule with more than 15 college hours each semester in addition to remaining active in choir and the Madrigals program at Southside High School. She is also secretary for the Southside student council and is an active member of First Baptist Church. Dale said while it’s clearly been a challenging year, she feels she is better prepared for the rigorous classes she will take as a pre-med student at Lyon.

“I know it will help me transition a lot better into the classes I will take at Lyon. I had three of my toughest classes this semester – anatomy, calculus and chemistry. It is completely worth it to take a lot of college classes while you’re still in high school. I think you need something more than a high school class before you go into college. It helps you figure out what you want to do. This has shown me that what I’ve dreamed of doing really is what I’m meant to do. It’s extremely beneficial. Just don’t cram it all into one year like I did,” Dale said laughing.

It wasn’t all work for her this year though, she added. “I made it a point to set aside time where I did nothing that involved school. I set aside time to just be with my family and friends. I didn’t do school all the time, just almost.”

Dale plans to work part-time at Econo-Mart Pharmacy this summer and volunteer at White River Medical Center.

“I don’t want to work for the hospital. I want to volunteer there to emphasize when I apply to medical school that this truly is what I want to do. I’m not just there for a paycheck,” she said.

Dale said while she encourages her classmates to take advantage of concurrent courses, it’s important to keep a connection to their high school as well their senior year.

“That’s why I remained in choir. I wanted to keep that connection to my high school. It was important to me to have that connection to both Southside and UACCB. I’ve had an awesome support system from both sides,” she said. “I just want to say a big thank you to both UACCB and Southside because this has been a great opportunity, and it has definitely given me a head start on my career.”