Page 8-9 - Spring 2013

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TROY Magazine
7
TROY Magazine
6
At Troy University’s Montgomery Campus
this spring, some 180 students reached the
milestone of completing a college degree,
but only one of them has earned both
undergraduate and graduate degrees before he is
old enough to vote.
Heath Harding of Montgomery walked across
the Davis Theatre stage on May 20 to accept his
Master of Computer Science degree. At 17, he is
most likely the youngest degree recipient in TROY’s
history.
And while his achievement may seem
extraordinary, for the Harding family it’s
pretty routine. Six of the family’s 10 children
started college by the age of 12.
“My three older sisters did the same things, and now my two
younger brothers,” Harding said. “It’s become kind of normal.
It was exciting. I’m sure I missed some things not going to high
school, but I got to experience a lot of things that most people
don’t get to experience.”
Harding actually started taking college classes at 10 while the
family was living in California. After they moved to Montgomery,
Harding enrolled at Huntingdon College, where he completed his
bachelor’s degree in English before moving on to TROY for his
master’s degree.
Being so young in college comes with more than a
few funny looks and strange moments, but Harding
said that in time, most people were able to look past
his age.
“There are some humorous interactions, and some
funny nicknames, but it has always been positive,”
Harding said. “After a while everyone gets used to
you being in the classroom. People can look past
your height.”
Many adult learners attend TROY’s
Montgomery Campus, which meant the age
gap between Harding and his fellow students
was even greater, going from just a few years
to decades. But smaller classes meant he got to
know both students and teachers better.
“I have to say that TROY was very flexible
and accepted my unique situation,” Harding said.
Adjunct instructor Dr. Fred Strickland taught
Harding at TROY and said the teen fit in well
in class and was up to the challenge of graduate
level work.
“We do a lot of project-based assignments
and he was able to contribute and did very good
work,” Strickland said. “He was more than equal
to the task and had the intellectual maturity to
deal with software engineering.”
The Harding children have all been
homeschooled by parents Mona Lisa and Kip
Harding. The family’s success at getting their
children through college at such a young age has
garnered national attention, and the Hardings
have been featured on the Today Show and CNN
among other national media.
Through their website, the Hardings now
advise other families on how to replicate their
homeschooling strategy, which Mona Lisa said can
work for almost anyone.
“We get emails from people all the time saying
my child is very bright and very bored in school
and misbehaving,” she said. “We urge them to
consider home schooling because it is the only
environment where they can really accelerate.”
For his part, Heath is quick to dismiss any thought
that he must be a genius because of his academic
success at a young age.
“People like to say that to me, but I really don’t feel like I
am just endowed with superior ability,” he said. “I think I’ve been
given a better environment. I’ve had things at home be stable. My
older sisters could tutor me and help me out with calculus class.
I’ve been blessed with a great environment and I think if anyone
was given the same environment they would be able to achieve
the same success.”
With diploma in hand, Heath Harding will join his father in
the ranks of TROY alumni. Kip Harding also earned a master’s
degree from TROY.
A MASTER AT 17
Harding perhaps TROY’s
youngest ever graduate
Fight song creates bond between University
and Michigan high school
Trojans One and All
It’s not unusual for a group of high school students to visit
Troy University’s campus as a stop along the way to another
destination, but for one high school band from Michigan, this
spring’s campus visit held special meaning.
The Wyoming High School Marching Wolves are the product
of a school consolidation in Wyoming, Michigan, near Grand
Rapids. Just a year old, the new high school has new colors, new
mascots, and a new fight song, all selected by students
Troy University’s fight song, “Trojans One and All,” was
adopted by the student body to unify their fans, and the
University sanctioned its use.
The students’ stop came in route to performances in New
Orleans, said Jeff Bennett, a former band director who served as
the tour’s director.
“This trip is all about the students,” he said. “It’s a great
opportunity to promote cohesiveness and help them form the
bonds they’ll need to be successful as a band and a new high school.”
Added to the fight song connection, Bennett said there was
another TROY connection with the students: most have learned
music through compositions by Troy University music professor
Robert W. Smith.
“Many of these kids have played his compositions. Most are
great for public school (music) programs because they teach
foundational ideas and techniques,” Bennett said. “I have used
them for years, as do the current directors.”
The Marching Wolves are under the direction of Bryan
Ambrose, one of Bennett’s former students, and Erick Flack,
assistant director of bands.