Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
Review Magazine

Ahead of Their Time: How These MU Students Graduated in 3.5 Years

Read the stories of how these remarkable Millersville students graduated in 3.5 years.

Students attending college today often have jobs, family responsibilities and other reasons for taking longer than four years to graduate. The pandemic has also factored into lower graduation rates, with many students taking a semester or year off. The national average for students graduating in four years from public institutions is 40.7%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That makes what 30 students at Millersville did in December all the more remarkable—they graduated in 3.5 years!

We highlight several students here, many who graduated with honors and are now enrolled in a graduate program.


Jadon Barnett, majored in Spanish and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in language and culture studies. From Walnutport, Pennsylvania, Barnett graduated summa cum laude and is now enrolled in the Master of Arts program in English at Millersville.

How did you graduate early?
I didn’t always plan to graduate in 3.5 years. My concentration was originally Spanish education. I came to MU with enough AP credits to graduate early, but student teaching was only available in the spring. This meant that I couldn’t push student teaching to the fall semester and graduate early. However, I was granted a wonderful opportunity to continue studying languages and linguistics in MU’s English MA program, so I switched my concentration from Spanish education to Spanish language and managed to graduate early with my AP credits.

What’s your best memory at Millersville?
My favorite MU memory was serving as president of the Spanish club. It was a strong leadership experience and a fantastic chance to meet and befriend other Spanish speakers while learning about the culture. There are so many opportunities available to you at MU if you make an effort to explore them. Millersville really is what you make of it.


Mary Brogna, majored in psychology at Millersville, with a minor in sociology. Hailing from Exton, Pennsylvania, she graduated magna cum laude in 3.5 years.

How did you graduate early?
I graduated in 3.5 years by taking dual-enrollment and AP classes in high school, and taking full course loads every semester.

What’s next for you?
I am enrolled in the University’s Master of Science program in clinical psychology, where I will work towards my goal of becoming a licensed professional counselor. I also work two jobs in the field to gain experience as a behavioral health technician and neuro rehabilitation assistant.

What’s your best memory at Millersville?
Meeting my current boyfriend and best friends. They have been my biggest support system and have had a hand in my success and college journey. Millersville gave me several opportunities to learn about various topics inside and outside of my major. I was able to work alongside some very knowledgeable students and professors, and am looking forward to continuing to attend as a graduate student.


Anthony Calamia, a business administration major with concentrations in accounting and finance, graduated magna cum laude in December after 3.5 years. Hailing from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Central Dauphin East.

Did you always plan to graduate early?
I came to Millersville with 22 credits from AP classes in high school. I did not want to graduate in three years because I wanted the opportunity to play soccer all four seasons. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I could only play three seasons before I graduated.

Plans after graduation?
Continue with a one-year Master of Accounting program to complete the 150-credit requirement for the CPA. I will then pursue studying and sitting for the CPA while working full-time in a public accounting firm.

Best memory at the’ Ville?
My best memory at Millersville would be the run to the elite eight with the men’s soccer team. I am also grateful for all the help I got from all my professors and the friends I made during my time at school.


Jared Cohen, majored in psychology and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 3.5 years. A native of Bethesda, Maryland, Cohen graduated magna cum laude.

How did you graduate early?
I graduated early by taking college-level courses while I was in high school and taking courses during the winter session. I also found that by taking a CLEP exam, it would give me the last few credits I needed to graduate early.

What are your plans now?
I plan to utilize my degree to attain a job working in mental health for one year. During this time, I also plan on applying to a few occupational therapy programs.

What’s your best memory of Millersville?
I have many favorite memories, but one, in particular, was being inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, which is a national leadership honor society. I loved being surrounded by family and friends while also having the opportunity to talk with the University president.

Any advice for students who want to graduate early?
My advice is to create a plan early on to determine what courses will be taken each semester and for how many total credits each semester. With good planning, it is possible to graduate early.


Courtney Cook, from Lititz, Pennsylvania, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in 3.5 years. She came to Millersville with AP credit, credit from labs and took summer courses.

How did you achieve graduating early?
Every semester I took five classes. I realized right before the summer of 2021 that I was six credits shy of graduating early, so I decided to take two classes over the summer, as it was a much cheaper option than coming back for the spring semester.

What are your plans now?
My career goal is to become a guide dog mobility instructor for The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey.

Best memory at Millersville?
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to raise two of my service dogs in training on campus—they were both large German shepherds, Levi and Ives, respectively. It was great exposure for them to be raised on campus and experience going to class and all the stimulation of the dining halls.

Any advice for incoming college students?
Find an upperclassman your first year who you can talk to about anything and everything. I found mine in one of my best college friends, Cheyanne. We both worked at the Anchor, and she was such a huge help to me in locating classes, keeping my motivation up, and providing all-around good advice on things both academically and socially.


Delanie Dugan, majored in art, concentrating in interactive and graphic design, with a minor in graphic technology. She’s from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and graduated summa cum laude in 3.5 years.

How did you accomplish graduating early?
In high school, I completed two classes at HACC that brought in six credits. I then started taking classes over winter and summer breaks to relieve some GenEd stress over the semester so I could focus more on my design and art classes.

What does it mean to you to graduate early?
School has always been a high priority for me. I knew coming into college that I would focus all of my energy and effort into doing the best I could because I was setting the foundation for my future career goals. Completing college has been the most challenging thing I have done so far, and it became even more difficult with COVID, but no matter how many years it takes to graduate, what matters most is you finished.

Any advice for those who want to graduate early?
The best thing you can do is break apart your course requirements over winter and summer breaks and choose classes that fulfill multiple requirements. Your DAR is your college course checklist, so keep referencing that and speak to your advisor every step of the way.


Leah Freeman, a member of the Honors College while at Millersville, graduated summa cum laude in 3.5 years with a bachelor’s degree in English writing studies. In addition, she had minors in ESL linguistics and psychology. She hails from Saylorsburg in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.

Did you always plan to graduate early?
Nope! It happened by accident. When I was in my second semester as a junior, the Honors College kept referring to me as a senior, so I reached out to them, thinking it was a mistake. It turns out I had enough credits to be a senior and I had no idea!

How did you accomplish graduating early?
I looked at my DARS and felt I was a little behind, so I decided to catch up with a summer class. I enjoyed it so much I ended up taking two more summer classes and then a winter class.

What are your plans after graduation?
I hope to attend graduate school for English.

Best memory of Millersville?
Millersville, especially the Honors College, opened up so many opportunities for me to work and gain experience in my field and participate in college life in a way I would have never expected of myself in the past.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Even if people take five or six years to graduate, graduating at all is an amazing accomplishment to be proud of.


Emily Hoffman, majored in mathematics with a concentration in statistics. Hailing from York, Pennsylvania, she graduated magna cum laude in 3.5 years with a Bachelor of Science degree.

How did you accomplish graduating early?
My high school offered some dual-enrollment and AP classes that definitely helped. Also, my advisor was so helpful in making sure I was taking the classes I needed and keeping me on track. I knew coming in that I could graduate early, but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to. I didn’t want to feel like I missed out on anything. But as I went forward in my career, I knew that I wanted to graduate in 3.5 years.

Plans after graduation?
I am enrolled in the master’s program in technology and innovation here at Millersville. After the completion of my master’s degree, I plan on pursuing a job in the field of data analysis or statistics.

Best memory of Millersville?
It’s hard to pick just one, but some of my best memories were when I was a student-athlete on the volleyball team. Going to NCAA’s my sophomore year was definitely a highlight! I met some of my best friends at Millersville and made memories to last a lifetime.


Michael Skros, a member of Millersville’s Honors College, majored in emergency management and geography, with a minor in economics. He graduated summa cum laude in 3.5 years with a bachelor’s degree in both emergency management and geography.

How did you accomplish graduating early?
I took at least one course during winter and summer, in addition to taking a full course load every spring and fall. All three of my academic advisors, Drs. Angela Cuthbert, Sepi Yalda and Elizabeth Thyrum assisted with planning my future semesters and making adjustments to ensure I could accomplish all of my goals.

Plans after graduation?
I moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and started full-time as a health and safety specialist with Amazon. I am also enrolled in Arizona State University’s master’s in emergency management and homeland security program.

Best memory of Millersville?
One of my favorite memories from MU is traveling to the International Association of Emergency Managers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this past fall.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Graduating early does not limit your college experience. I made great friends, graduated with 151 credits, completed four internships, volunteered in the community and held a position on the executive board of two campus clubs. Everyone’s college experience is unique, and Millersville provides flexibility and support so that each student can have an individualized experience.


Emily Lazar Kreider, is a 2015 graduate. A member of the Honors College, she majored in speech communication with an option in public relations and a minor in marketing—and graduated in three years. Kreider is now the Retail Learning Manager for The Hershey Company.

How did you accomplish graduating early?
I came to Millersville University with 15 college credits from high school AP tests. After my first semester, I took 18 credits each semester instead of the average 15 credits. Also, I was a summer intern at WITF, the Harrisburg NPR and PBS affiliate, so I was able to get college credit for that career-building experience.

What does it mean to you to graduate in three years?
Looking back, I am very proud of my decisions and hard work to graduate early. However, I did not try to complete my degree in three years to brag. I was paying for my college tuition, so I was motivated to get through my degree without taking out student loans. I worked as a resident assistant for my second and third years to get reduced housing and a stipend. Also, I worked a few other campus jobs, such as a business group tutor and a communications intern at the Ware Center. By the time I graduated, I was debt-free.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I remember I told my parents my first year that I planned on graduating in three years, and they said, “We’ll see.” On my graduation day, my parents told everyone who would listen
that I graduated at 20 years old. At my celebration dinner, my parents teased me about being a college graduate but unable to drink alcohol.

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