Graduating from high school while maintaining better than a 3.0 grade point average isn’t easy. Doing that while also working on a degree from Des Moines Area Community College is even harder.
Colfax-Mingo senior Ethan Martin is graduating from high school this spring like many others around the state of Iowa. But he also graduated from DMACC earlier this month.
“Ethan has been taking DMACC classes since eighth grade and his goal has been to attain his AA degree while in high school,” Martin’s mother Dusty Clements said. “We are so proud of him. He has really worked hard to accomplish this.”
There is a chance Martin still will walk with his fellow graduates at Colfax-Mingo and have a traditional graduation this summer. The graduation at DMACC that was scheduled for May 6 was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When I found out it was canceled, I was upset,” Martin said. “It definitely sucks, but it’s not anyone’s fault. It won’t be the last time I get to walk across the stage for a graduation. And when I do get to do that, I will feel like I’ve earned it even more.”
Martin didn’t always expect to graduate from DMACC while in high school. His educational journey all started during the summer before high school when he took a class Colfax-Mingo didn’t offer to freshman.
The class was American history. He took the course because he planned to minor in history in college.
Most of the work Martin did at DMACC was done online. He did attend a Career Academy class that was face-to-face Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. It was five classes for two semesters.
Martin did all the extra courses while also playing football and baseball for his high school and being involved in FFA.
Clements said Martin studied and worked on his classes during family summer vacations. Not having summers off to be a kid was common, too.
“Last summer he went to Europe for two weeks with his classmates for a trip offered by the school and he had to study and work on his DMACC classes during the first part of the trip,” Clements said. “He devoted a lot of time to attaining his AA and spent countless hours studying.”
Martin’s GPA at Colfax-Mingo was 3.3. He obtained his degree from DMACC with a 3.5 GPA.
Martin will be a junior at the University of Iowa this fall. He will be a 17-year-old college junior and plans to major in criminology.
He took all of his general education classes at DMACC while focusing on criminal justice. Martin’s long-term goal is to work for the FBI or the Federal Marshall Service.
Before that, he will take the three plus three program at Iowa, which means his final year as an undergraduate also will be his first year in law school. He will either attend law school at Iowa or Drake University.
“My mom owns a law firm in Newton so I may have to start there after I graduate,” Martin said. “It will take some time to get where I want to go.”
Martin said the expectation is to be done with law school before he turns 22. Being the youngest student in his class is nothing new for Martin, who was 4 years old when he started kindergarten.
“We started him so young because he has always been eager to learn,” Clements said. “I’m almost positive he’s the youngest student in his high school class, and I don’t know for sure if he is the first student at C-M to attain an AA while still in high school, but I know there hasn’t been too many kids do it.”
Martin’s advice to future Tigerhawks would be to start taking classes at DMACC as early as you can because the school pays for the courses if they are taken in the fall or spring.
Martin sacrificed a lof things along the way, too. He was working on homework on Saturday nights when his friends were out having fun somewhere. Martin had to learn to balance his time.
Unfortunately, he won’t be able to enjoy the accomplishment with a proper graduation.
“When DMACC canceled the ceremony that was a terrible feeling knowing that he wouldn’t have the recognition that he had been planning to have and that he so much deserves,” Clements said. “It’s disappointing, but we are still so proud of him.”