Langdon teen graduates from high school – InForum

DEVILS LAKE, ND — Claire Hiltner was all smiles for one last class photo before graduating from Lake Region State College on Friday, May 16.

“(It’s) surreal to finally be here today,” she said.

She graduated with an associate degree in science.

“A lot of hard work and weird to think we’re finally there,” she said with a laugh.

Some may wonder why this is such a huge feat.

Hiltner graduated from high school. The 18-year-old from Langdon, North Dakota, won’t be able to graduate from high school for two weeks.

“Claire would be the first (high school student) to ever earn an associate degree (before a high school diploma),” said Daniel Driessen, the assistant vice president of student affairs at Lake Region State College.

“I was a full-time high school and full-time student,” Hiltner said. “It was a challenge to find time for it, but we made it happen. It’s all about balance, and there were hardships to balance it, and what activities to do when,” she explained.

Hiltner is part of the Lake Region State College dueling credit program. This semester, more than 700 students were enrolled statewide. The program, which has been around since the late 1980s, has had a number of “high flyers” over the years, with some previous high school students earning 40 credits, but none have ever earned all 60 credits.

“There aren’t many options for students who want to pursue or push themselves academically, and this gives them that opportunity,” says Driessen.

Even two years behind, Hiltner still has a lot of school to go. She enrolls as a pre-med student at the University of North Dakota. The EMT with Langdon Ambulance – Hiltner is also a certified nursing assistant at Langdon Prairie Health – plans to major in medical laboratory science and minor in chemistry. Then it’s four years of medicine and another four years of residency with dreams of one day becoming an emergency physician or cardiologist.

“You’re there on the worst day of their lives, and their calm in their storm is worth it in itself,” Hiltner said.

With her name called and diploma in hand, Hiltner smiled as she walked across the stage, knowing she had a decade to go before the diploma she’d set her eyes on would be.

“There is still a way to go, but this is the first step,” she said.

She plans to have only one graduation party.

Leave a Comment