Mary Roberts

A Collegiate High School student pursues her goal of becoming a neurosurgeon

Mary Roberts, recently named a Junior Rotarian and honored for her academic excellence and extracurricular achievements by the Texas City Rotary Club, isn’t a typical high school student. This spring instead of sitting at a desk at Texas City High School, Roberts will be in a classroom at Baylor University studying premed.

Though she’s not yet walked at a high school graduation ceremony, she completed high school requirements a semester early through College of the Mainland’s Collegiate High School. She simultaneously earned 73 transferable college credits and an associate degree.

“I get to come back and walk in two graduations,” she said, noting that in May she will participate in ceremonies at COM and Texas City High School.

Meanwhile, she will tackle calculus and other courses as she pursues her goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.

“The brain is an amazing organ, and it’s something I want to learn more about,” she said.

The intricacies of the brain first entranced her in a lab at COM. She’d planned a career in psychiatry, inspired in part by her and her ex-Marine father’s volunteer work with military members with post-traumatic stress disorder. After exploring both psychology and anatomy in college classes, she found her preference.

“The anatomy part of science was always more fun,” she said.  

Understanding anatomy was not the sole challenge she undertook as a 16-year old. She took up to 17 credits each semester, and courses in precalculus, physics and trigonometry resulted in filled notebooks and late nights.

“You get to finals week and think, ‘Starbucks is running out of coffee. I think I drank it all,’” she said.

Still, she enjoyed Collegiate High School’s advantages—class discussions with students with a variety of life experiences and a greater selection of courses.

Her favorite course, “The Undead in Film and Literature” taught by Dr. Bernie Smiley, introduced her to the world of Dracula, Frankenstein and “Zombieland.”

“It was the best class. It was so fun to see the evolution of the cultural aspect [of zombies],” she said.

Smiley taught her first college English class as well and watched her transition from a quiet high school student to one ready to face university courses.

“Mary had drive. If she didn’t get an A, she wanted to know why and fix it. She grew as a result of that,” Smiley said.

Her motivation to study—she earned a 3.465 GPA—and extracurricular activities also qualified her for scholarships from Baylor.

She is excited as she approaches the next challenge.

“Collegiate High School was definitely one of the best school decisions I’ve made,” she said.

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