When Abby Thompson, Northampton Community College (NCC) student, was interested in learning more about how to broaden her education, she was only in eighth grade, just shy of high school. “I applied to NCC’s dual enrollment program to see what would happen. It was a difficult adjustment because I had never taken more on than my typical school load.” That didn’t discourage her. She was on her way to reaching exceptional heights by the time she would graduate high school.
Thompson began her journey at NCC in the winter of 2019, shortly after starting her freshman year at Liberty High School in Bethlehem. Adjusting to taking classes online at NCC – her first experience with virtual learning – coupled with adjusting to the academic demands of high school was challenging at first. “I had to adapt to all of that in such a short period of time, but with NCC, I reached out to professors, and they really helped me navigate it all,” Thompson said. However, by the following semester, all of her classes for high school and college were online because of the pandemic. “By that time, I was a pro at balancing all of my classes and working online,” she said confidently.
Thompson said that making an online calendar and checklists assisted her in keeping all of her assignments for high school and college separate and handed in on time. “I used to have the mindset of ‘let’s get it all done on the first day of every week.’ That became too much and stressful, and I found I was getting burnt out right away.” She also credits her parents for helping her stay on track.
At first, she took one class at the college each semester. Then, Thompson talked with her advisor about her goal of earning an associate’s degree in general studies by the time she graduated high school, giving her a head start for her future. Together, they blocked out how many classes Thompson could take per semester to make it happen, which included taking classes during the winter and summer sessions, so she could spread her courses out without getting too overwhelmed.
Thompson is set to graduate from NCC this winter with a 4.0, a semester before graduating from high school, truly outdoing herself. Her step-brother and twin sister also started attending NCC as dual enrollment students following in their sister’s footsteps. Her advice for any student looking to enter NCC as a dual enrollment student is, “Utilize all the student resources. Use office/virtual hours, and keep communication open with professors. Get feedback prior to submissions, and make sure to visit the library and learning center for additional help.”
Thompson’s achievements don’t just stop at academia. She’s won two President’s Volunteer Service Awards in high school because community service is a big part of her life. Growing up, her family went to food banks together. “I liked seeing the reactions of people I helped. Seeing the smiles on their faces when they receive a tray of food, for example, makes me happy.”
For one of her more elaborate community projects, Thompson was inspired by the free libraries she’d seen around the area. She wanted to create hygiene boxes in a similar fashion for those who don’t have the means to buy those supplies for themselves. She partnered with the local Bethlehem YMCA where they implemented it. She’s proud to say that this helped her immediate community where she lives, and it has been there for about two years. “I fill it every two weeks with supplies, but I always find that people fill it as well. Anyone can bring or take anything you need or want to give.”
After graduating high school in June, Thompson plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and further her education with a pharmaceutical science master’s degree thereafter. Her top contenders are Emory, Northwestern, and Princeton, to name a few.
“I want to eventually work with making medicines. The summer before junior year, I attended a pre-college summer program at Brown University, and I could choose what courses to take. I chose organic biology and chemistry because it was interesting to me, and we were able to create aspirin from scratch. I fell in love with the process then. I can’t wait to see what my future holds.”