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Double-time graduate

“Amazing. Incredible,” is how proud mama Jessie Hibner describes her 18-year-old daughter, Tayler, who will graduate this week with both a high school diploma and a college degree.

Tayler will walk Saturday with the rest of South Medford High School’s class of 2017. The following Saturday, she will participate in commencement exercises at Rogue Community College and receive her associate’s transfer degree.

Although she doubled up on classes, the teenager maintained a 3.9 GPA at both the high school and college levels. She will graduate with honors from both schools and a fistful of scholarships, including one from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, where she will transfer next fall.

But it wasn’t all work and no play. A princess on South Medford’s prom court this year, Tayler made sure to enjoy all that high school life offered.

“We talked about me graduating early from high school and going on to college, but I didn’t want to miss out on high school memories,” she said.

Tayler was a member of the South Medford marching band for more than three years, and has been active in the school’s National Honor Society chapter and Adventure Club.

“I only recently stopped band,” she said. “But I still wanted to go ice skating, hiking and have outdoor adventures.”

Tayler started taking college courses her freshman year in high school and gradually added more classes each college term, including summers. The past two summers, she attended RCC full time. Her studies included classes at both the downtown Medford and Grants Pass campuses and online courses.

Tayler’s ultimate goal is to go to medical school. The work load, she believes, is just a taste of the grueling schedule that lies ahead.

“She has always wanted to be a doctor,” said her mother. “And this was her way of getting a head start.”

“School has been her full-time job,” she added. “I could brag endlessly. She’s made mature adult choices.”

The result has been a “tremendous impact on saving time and money.”

Tayler admits that time management was her biggest challenge. As RCC classes became more demanding, she said she had “to find the right balance and make sure that I zeroed in on family and friends.”

Tayler said that her mom, an intensive care unit nurse and nurse educator at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, was a big encouragement in her endeavors.

“I have been around medical personnel all my life,” she said. “I really am drawn to the fast pace (of the work) and the opportunity to help people.”

For her senior project, Tayler did a job shadow in the ICU.

Her mother said she witnessed firsthand Tayler’s “beautiful spirit.”

“She has thrived,” she added, in both her course work and the work at the hospital.

“She desires to give back to the community and help the less fortunate.”

Tayler said she chose Whitworth for its “fantastic science program and strong pre-med curriculum." She hasn’t chosen a specialty and is purposely “leaving my options open.”

“When I am in med school, I will have to do rotations in each department or specialty. … I want to keep an open mind.”

Tayler’s immediate goal, however, is “to enjoy the summer.”

“I am going to take a break.”

She said she will miss the daily interaction with her high school friends while away at the university next fall, but “I am excited for college. It will be interesting.”

She should know; she’s already had a preview.

South Medford High School’s 2017 graduation ceremony is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Spiegelberg Stadium, 815 S. Oakdale Ave.

Rogue Community College’s commencement ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. June 17 in the Marjorie Holzgang Concert Bowl on the Redwood campus in Grants Pass.

— Reach Grants Pass freelance writer Tammy Asnicar at tammyasnicar@q.com.

Tayler Hibner will graduate from South Medford High School and Rogue Community College this month — with honors from both schools. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]