Eighteen-year-old KSU graduate preparing for graduate school

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jan 11, 2024

Amari Cody
Amari Cody
At 18, most students are just beginning their college careers. But for Amari Cody, it’s the age she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kennesaw State University.

While a student at Westover Comprehensive High School in her hometown of Albany, Georgia, Cody took advantage of dual enrollment to take classes simultaneously at Albany State University. Cody graduated a year early from Westover with both a high school diploma and an associate of science degree in psychology, meaning she was a college junior when she enrolled at Kennesaw State in August 2022 to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

In December, the KSU Journey Honors College student graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in child advocacy and looks forward to working on a Master of Social Work at Kennesaw State in Fall 2024.

“I always did well in school, so I kind of just set that standard for myself,” Cody said. “I’ve always loved school and loved to learn, so when I got any opportunity to be on an accelerated track, I took that opportunity, because I knew I wanted to do some great things.”

Cody’s story shines a light on the paths of nearly 1,000 students who are dual enrolled in high school and Kennesaw State each semester, according to Jacinta Luster, assistant director for undergraduate admissions. In Spring 2024, that number is 1,073. Luster said students who dual enroll typically complete about 9.5 credit hours of college coursework before graduating from high school.

“By participating in dual enrollment, students have the benefit of experiencing a college environment and earning college credits while still getting to be a high school student,” Luster said. “Dual enrollment is also a great cost-saving measure for families and, like in Amari’s case, a fantastic way to get a jump-start on a college and professional career.”

Cody said once she decided to enroll at Kennesaw State, she discovered an academic home. She’s held multiple jobs, research assistant roles and an internship through KSU, as well as tutored and participated in various honor societies and clubs. Though her undergraduate experience was shorter than most, she said she took every opportunity she could to get to know her peers and professors.

“I didn’t just want to go to class, but I wanted to get to know my school and participate in the community, and there’s a big sense of community here to get involved in,” she said.

Equally meaningful was a response she received from KSU President Kathy Schwaig congratulating her on her graduation after she sent an email thanking Schwaig for the various support systems and programs that gave her the opportunity to do all she did while at KSU.

“I was really surprised – I mean, she’s the president. The faculty and staff seem to really care about their students,” Cody said. “It’s like a big family here.”

Cody said she is considering pursuing a clinical psychology degree after earning a master’s degree. She aims to become a child clinical psychologist and social worker, and to create clinics and shelters that assist minority and marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ community and victims of domestic, family and intimate partner violence.

– By Thomas Hartwell

Photos submitted

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.