April 28, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Herrin High School senior Brittney Gusentine is pulling off one heck of a Houdini act.

The overachieving 18-year-old honors student will actually graduate with an Associate of Arts degree from John A. Logan College a day before she graduates with diploma in hand from HHS on Saturday, May 14.

Gusentine is the first Herrin High student to attempt, much less accomplish such a feat. And according to records at John A. Logan College, Gusentine is the first public school student to earn a two-year degree at or about the same time that student graduates from high school.

Gusentine said she was first turned onto the idea of dual credit through JALC her sophomore year of high school.

“It was mentioned in a class assembly,” she said. “After talking to my high school guidance counselors, I decided to pursue a path of graduation from both high school and Logan. I started taking dual-enrollment classes the first semester of my junior year and continued through the summer and then again this school year.”

Whether in person or online, Gusentine has found a way to persevere. This spring semester, for example, she has completed work in Biology, Micro Economics, English, U.S. History, Art of the Cinema, and Ethics and Moral Problems. The majority of those classes were taken online.

“My all-time favorite class at Logan was a Death and Dying class that Jane Minton taught,” Gusentine said. “I also enjoyed some history classes that Rick Burkett taught. Both teachers are two of the best I have had.”

Gusentine said she attends high school classes during the day and college in the evening for the most part.

“My parents and family have been very supportive of my decision, and many people who learned that I was taking both were shocked,” she said. “The biggest concern was that I would burn myself out. Fortunately, I have managed to accomplish my goal and keep my grades up.”

Gusentine has put together straight As at HHS the last two years and maintains a 3.6 cumulative GPA through her four years. At Logan, she has a 3.8 GPA.

“This summer, I plan on continuing to work and go on vacation with my family,” she said. “I have been accepted to SIUC and I plan on transferring in the fall to begin my third year pre-med. My intent is to major in medicine and eventually earn a master’s degree. I want to be a forensic pathologist.”

Herrin High School guidance counselor Rob Long said Gusentine is now the model for other HHS students to follow.

“It takes a special student to do what she has done,” Long said. “I know she has been working hard for the last two years to accomplish her goal. Her work ethic is amazing. She is a great leader for our students. And because of her success, we can now encourage others to follow in her footsteps.”

Scott Wernsman, Perkins Career Coordinator and Partnership Coordinator at Logan, described Gusentine as an “excellent” student who has been taking course through the college’s Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment program since the fall of 2014.

“Brittney has taken advantage of dual credit courses offered at Herrin, along with evening and online classes at JALC’s main campus,” Wernsman said. “She has been a dedicated student to both her high school coursework and Logan courses. She should be proud of this tremendous accomplishment.”

Gusentine has somehow found time to do things other than homework.

“I made time for track,” she said. “I throw the discus.”

The teen said she highly recommends dual enrollment to both current and future high school students.

“Being in college while in high school expands the mind to new learning opportunities and techniques, as well as improvement in organizational skills and information literacy,” she said.

Gusentine added that she is pleased with her accomplishment.

“In the end, hard work really does payoff,” she said.