BOTETOURT CO., Va. – Graduation season is almost here and one remarkable teen from Botetourt County will graduate with two degrees.
This spring, Skylar Gay will be receiving both her high school diploma and an associate degree.
“I work part-time at the University of Georgia as an undergraduate research assistant working on a breast cancer project as well as a COVID-19 project,” said Gay, who is also finishing up her associate degree at Virginia Western Community College. “When I started college, I started the whole process to get the entrance placements exams when I was 13. But I started my first class when I was 14.”
“I would say she fit really well within the college environment and in the classroom,” said Heather Lindberg, VWCC associate professor of biology and one of the teen’s first professors. “She was asking the same level of questions. She was asking the same depth questions. She fit right in.”
“For me, it was it was a very enriching experience and a lot of them actually didn’t even know that I was a dual enrollment student, that I was 14,” recalled Gay.
Her mom, Becky, said homeschooling her entire life allowed Skylar to explore.
“I think all children are smart and they’re all gifted. The key to it is unlocking what their gifts are,” said Becky Gay. “She’s always been a really curious learner. Early on, she had a desire to know everything.”
And that’s continued.
“I’ve actually been able to watch that spark happen, where she has found something in the sciences that truly gives her joy and so that gives her drive. Being able to watch that click is so much fun and that’s why I do what I do,” said Lindberg, who added that the teen has “a very, very bright future. She’s gonna have lots of choices.”
“I’ve always enjoyed learning. I’m just a naturally curious person, I believe. For me, it wasn’t always about necessarily being smart, but it was striving to learn more. It was a hunger and a passion for learning and education,” said Skylar.
The teen says she sleeps nine hours a night and also has a passion for art and theatre. Skylar says homeschooling enabled her to develop great time management skills.
Skylar is still waiting to hear back from some universities before deciding where she wants to go. She plans to get a degree in biology, and then go on to graduate school and get a doctorate. She would love to work with students in the future.
“If I took away all of the achievements, I look at her and I’m most proud of the person that she is,” said Becky Gay.