Former Lake Charles resident skips high school for college

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Arianna Kropf was accepted to college at age 13 and was taking full-credit courses a year later. At 16 she is the vice president

of the biology honors society Beta Beta Beta and is double majoring in biology and English.

Through the Program for Exceptionally Gifted, Kropf was able to bypass high school to pursue an undergraduate degree at Mary

Baldwin College, a women-only university in Staunton, Va.

“She enjoys being busy and enjoys the challenge of harder classes,” said Kropf’s mother, Dana Kropf. “I’m really happy for

her and being in an all-women’s college has helped her build her confidence as a woman and make her future bright.”

Arianna was born in Lake Charles and

later moved to Raleigh, N.C., where she tested into the Duke University

Talent Identification

Program for academically gifted youth. But she was bored and

frustrated with the courses and pace of middle school and, she

said, “did not want to stay.”

Through TIP she was able to take the SATs in seventh grade for the chance to springboard her academic career to a higher level.

After scoring exceptionally high she received letters from several universities offering her early college entry.

Once she was accepted into the Program for Exceptionally Gifted, Arianna was awarded a talent scholarship through the program

for playing the violin.

Her grandparents, Pam and Robert of Moss Bluff, have been supportive of their granddaughter’s decision to start college at

an early age.

“At first some people think it’s unusual to skip high school, but she’s so special,” said Pam. “She really did well to skip

high school and to be where she’s at.”

Now a junior in college, Arianna has plans for after graduation with her sights set on attending medical school. Already,

the 16-year-old is part of a research team on campus, and she has spent time perfecting techniques for culturing neurons.

“She’s got questions rolling around in

her mind that are above and beyond,” said Paul A. Callo, a professor in

the biology

department who has had Arianna in several of his classes. “She’s

quite an exceptional student in the regard that she always

wants to learn more.”

She has also studied breast cancer

cells and ways to try to decrease invasion. The research is important to

her because both

her grandmother and mother are breast cancer survivors. In

addition, she is a teaching assistant for an entry-level biology

class and holds a teaching session for other students once a week.

But even with her full-time involvement

at the university there is still a feeling of being separate from

students who are

not in the PEG. “We feel perpetually separated from those who are

older,” Arianna said. “You are constantly thinking to yourself,

‘Do they know that you’re 14 or 15?’ ”

But Arianna, who just received her driver’s license, enjoys university life and the responsibility it gives her. She lives

in her own apartment off campus, has a job, volunteers, and does yoga when there is time to spare.

“You have to be emotionally prepared,

and you have to be socially prepared,” she said. “I’m really lucky to be

here and involved

in the research. The first time I was here I loved it, and the

program is somewhat like a surrogate family — it’s just a bunch

of girls who felt the same way you did.”