SYLACAUGA – Guts, determination and a desire to graduate not only from high school, but also from college have been the focus of Danielle Hanrahan’s life for more than two years.
The 18-year-old Sylacauga High senior has accomplished a feat believed to be a first at her school. She graduated with an associate degree from Central Alabama Community College (CACC) on May 10 and will receive her advanced high school diploma from SHS on May 23.
Hanrahan is accomplishing this feat thanks to a dual enrollment partnership with CACC that allows SHS students to take some of their required high school courses, as well as additional courses, through the college.
According to school officials, the college instructor reports grades at the end of each semester to the high school counselor, who adds that data to the student’s high school transcript.
The high school transcript does not serve as an official college transcript but does award credit for both secondary and college courses to be counted toward high school graduation and GPA (grade point average).
All dual enrollment courses must be approved by the State Department of Education, with the principal granting approval for each student to participate.
Hanrahan started her dual enrollment the summer before her junior year. This process was not easy for the senior. Her days started at 6:30 a.m. and ended between 1:30 and 2 a.m.
Her mother, Melany, said her daughter was self-determined.
Hanrahan said her heart was constantly racing from lack of sleep to getting to class at SHS and CACC, plus keeping up with her extracurricular activities.
“Mom helped me keep track and on top of everything I needed to do. I had nightmares I would miss something,” she said. “Mom would tell me to take a deep breath.”
Hanrahan said her mom told her, “If you can’t give 100 percent, don’t do it.”
In addition to taking all eight required courses for both her junior and senior years through dual enrollment, she took an additional 17 courses to earn an associate degree in applied science with a certificate in office administration and a short-term certification in general office administration.
Hanrahan not only took high school and college classes, but she was also involved in many other activities at school.
She was president of Mu Alpha Theta (math honor society); played tuba for four years and served as first chair tuba in the marching and concert bands; was in the signature choir for four years; served two years in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America); played two years of varsity basketball; plays on the tennis team; made the “all A” honor roll as a junior; the “A and B” honor roll as a senior; and was on the dean’s list at CACC last year.
Music is an important part of her life, having been in the show choir, signature choir and band. She has taken voice lessons from Anna Faye Comer.
Hanrahan said she could not have accomplished all she did without the support of her teachers, professors, school administrators and her family.
She will start Murray State University in Kentucky this fall. Her plans are to earn a double major in secondary math education and music. She wants to teach high school math.
Why did she decide to attend Murray State?
“That’s where my grandfather and grandmother met, George and Becky Hanrahan. They married while in school. Both went on to teach,” she said.
She received two scholarships from the university and will only have to go two years to get her degree. When she graduates, she will not yet be 21 and will have to wait four months before she can legally teach.
When Hanrahan graduates May 23, she will be graduating from SHS alongside her brother, Dalton, and sister, Dana.
Graduation, she said, will be the last thing the three siblings will do together because they are headed in different directions with their careers.
Hanrahan’s mom said Danielle is her baby because she is the youngest of the three by 23 seconds.
Sylacauga High counselor Rachel Sherbert said of this college and future SHS graduate, “Danielle is an extremely determined and driven young woman. Her work ethic far exceeds that of most young adults. I could not be more proud of her accomplishments. I know that she will exceed in life and make a difference in the world.”
Hanrahan wants students to know the dual enrollment program is an opportunity available to them and one they should take advantage of it.
She is the daughter of Robert and Melany Hanrahan. Her grandparents, in addition to George and Becky Hanrahan, are Dale and Renee Rogers, and Chris and Kais Rains, all of Kentucky.
She also has another brother and sister, Whitney Saffold and Michael Hanrahan.