Molly SchmidtMolly is your typical high school Running Start student.  She is driven, has goals and dreams for her future, and chose to get a jump start on her college education through the Running Start Program at FVCC.

What isn’t typical about Molly?  The perfect score she just earned on her ACT test.

Okay, we were impressed, so we decided to talk to Molly about the steps she took leading up to this great accomplishment.

Born and raised in Whitefish, Molly’s first love was dancing.  She started ballet at the age of three and continued through her freshman year in high school.  Even as a dancer, Molly was highly committed and consistently at the “top of her class,” earning a number of lead roles.

“I pretty much lived at the studio,” said Molly.  “I was actually thinking of becoming a professional dancer at that time.”

But things began to change for Molly.  She took a step back to look at what she really wanted to accomplish in her life, and she also had concerns about the difficult lifestyle of a professional dancer.  As a high school freshman, Molly made the tough decision to give up dancing, which gave her more time to focus on her studies.

Molly’s dedication to her school work was apparent in her choice to get a jump start on her college education by enrolling in the Running Start Program at FVCC the summer after her sophomore year in high school.

“I knew Running Start would help me challenge myself and explore different subjects that aren’t available at the high school level,” said Molly.

Through the program, Molly took Ivan Lorentzen’s Fundamentals of Biological Psychology course and discovered a new passion for the science.  She credits Mr. Lorentzen’s passion for the subject for inspiring her to want to learn everything she can about the brain.

“I kept coming home from his class with fun facts to share with my family,” she said.  “Did you know that if the brain is removed from the skull and placed on a table at room temperature it will melt because the bonds that hold it together can’t withstand gravity without floating in liquid?”

Molly says she also appreciates the break she gets from high school while spending time at FVCC.

“There are a lot of educational opportunities with Running Start, and it’s amazing what I’ve been able to accomplish in so little time, but it’s also just cool to experience the atmosphere of a college campus,” she said.

In her classic form, Molly has fervently pursued her early college education.  She will graduate from FVCC with her Associate of Science degree this May – 22 days before she will receive her high school diploma.

In anticipation of applying to college to continue her education, Molly took the ACT national admissions test.  Sure, Molly calls herself a perfectionist, but a perfect score of 36 was only achieved by 704 (0.04%) of the 1.6 million graduating high school students who took the test in 2011.

Did she know right away that she’d nailed it?

“I thought it was good, but I didn’t think it would be perfect,” she admitted.  “I’ve always paid close attention in school and have done my best in everything I do, which I really think helped me prepare.”

Molly’s future looks bright.  After applying to a number of top schools, she has decided to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston to study brain and cognitive sciences.  She said that MIT captivated her because it seemed that they had a personality that other schools lacked.

“They really seem to balance work and play, which gives students a chance to breathe while still working hard,” she said.

Molly is looking forward to her fall departure to Boston and says she feels much more prepared for what lies ahead because of the college experience she got on the FVCC campus.

We asked if she had any words of wisdom for other students considering the Running Start Program.  Not one to hold back in any facet of life, Molly’s buoyant reply wasn’t a surprise.

“Don’t think,” she said.  “Just do it!”