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Young scholar gets an early start on path to a dental career
Nikasha N Dicks
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Young scholar gets an early start on path to a dental career

Megyn Bolen wants to become an orthodontist, and at just 12 years old, she is already well on her way by taking college courses at Aiken Technical College.

“It just feels natural to me,” said Megyn, who completed the spring semester with a 4.0 grade point average and on the Dean’s List. “It’s no different than if I went to a sixth-grade classroom every day. But when I tell other people about it, their faces are just priceless.”

She enrolled at Aiken Tech in August 2023 in the Early Start dual enrollment program, taking college courses during the fall and spring semesters that counted as dual credit toward her high school diploma and college degree requirements.

Megyn graduated from high school on Friday, May 10, during a ceremony held for area homeschool students. As a graduating senior, she also earned a Within Reach scholarship from the ATC Foundation as she continues working toward an Associate in Science degree at Aiken Tech.

“Megyn’s enrollment was unique as she was academically ready to begin dual enrollment at a much earlier time, based on her solid education foundation,” said Melinda Rodgers, associate vice president of enrollment management and student affairs at Aiken Tech. “She has shown great academic, personal, and organizational skills. She excels academically and demonstrates a high level of motivation and initiative. Megyn also has a strong support system that encourages and guides her.”

Getting an Early Start

Henry and Amber Bolen noticed their daughter Megyn was a quick learner when she was about six years old.

Not wanting to bore her and desiring to avoid busy work, the couple decided to try something different.

“We said we would do school year-round and try to cover two grades worth of material every 12 months,” Amber said. “Our motto was that we would check in every 12 months, and if she starts to push back, if it starts to be too much, we’ll slow down. No harm, no foul.”

It worked. By age 9, Megyn was beginning high school work, and last year, the family started discussing what was next. They decided to look into dual enrollment opportunities.

They contacted Diane Burchett, the dual enrollment coordinator at Aiken Tech, to discuss options.

“She was super supportive and really a godsend for us because I was very anxious,” Amber said.

Megyn enrolled in her first two college courses in the fall 2023 semester, taking them online.

“About six weeks into the semester, it was very clear that she was doing absolutely what she should be doing,” Amber said.

She added that the support and encouragement Megyn and the family have received has made the transition into college a great experience.

“We’re very grateful for the professors, Ms. Diane, and the school in general,” Amber said. “Not everybody would embrace this kind of unusual situation, but everybody has been wonderful.”

 

'A Renaissance Lady'

Megyn spends her free time exploring new hobbies and has even become an entrepreneur.

“I’ve been playing golf and tennis ever since I could swing the racket and the club, so I enjoy those a lot. And, actually, on my class ring, I have golf and tennis symbols,” Megyn said. “I’m almost good enough to play in tournaments for tennis. Golf, well, we need to wait a little bit for that.”

In addition, she is taking guitar lessons, loves singing, and has participated in dance, taekwondo, and a swim team in the past. She is also a member of the American Heritage Girls, a Christian-based character development program, and volunteers in her church’s nursery.

Megyn also has a jewelry-making business called Megyn’s Wild Letter Tiles and is starting a baking business called One Stop Sweet Shop.

“I make crocheted bracelets, necklaces, and keychains,” said Megyn about the jewelry business. “But, what’s different about mine is that I use my 3-D printer to make Scrabble-like tiles that hang from the bracelets. So you can get any letter or number printed on those. It’s pretty cool!”

With the baking business, Megyn is focusing on selling specialty cake pops.

“She’s a Renaissance lady,” Amber said. “She can do all kinds of stuff.”

 

Preparing for Success

After a successful first semester in the fall of 2023, Megyn enrolled in four online courses in the spring 2024 semester and, now that high school graduation is behind her, is looking forward to being a full-time college student.

Megyn is tracking to complete and graduate with her Associate in Science degree in May 2025. The Associate in Science program is one of the College’s university transfer pathways. The credits Megyn earns are transferable and can count toward a bachelor’s degree, which she plans to pursue after graduating from Aiken Tech.

Each level will help her get closer to her career goal of becoming an orthodontist. Her inspiration is her aunt, who’s a dental hygienist, Megyn said.

“I feel like dentists and orthodontists play such a huge role in everyone’s life. Whether you’re 5 years old or 50 years old, everyone needs to get their teeth cleaned,” she said. “I always worried about having to go to the dentist and orthodontist because I always thought it would hurt. So, I just want to be that encouraging doctor or orthodontist.”

In the meantime, Megyn looks forward to advancing toward her goals—in and out of class—one step at a time.

“I’m very blessed to be in this position,” she said.

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