Taylor Huff, an upcoming senior at Dougherty High School, completed dual-enrollment requirements for her associate's degree at Albany Technical College.

ALBANY — Four years ago, Taylor Huff, who is now a rising senior at Dougherty High School, set out to be a “first” in her family.

Huff was only 12 years old when she became inspired by her grandfather, William Huff III.

Taylor Huff’s grandfather passed away in May of that year. According to Huff, her grandfather was loving, caring and always made her feel like she was his favorite. Huff admits that her grandfather made all of his grandchildren feel special, but that secretly she always knew that she truly was his favorite.

Huff said that it was at her grandfather’s funeral that she learned he had been the first African-American Ford dealer in the state of Georgia. In 1971, Huff’s grandfather was also elected as the first African-American tax commissioner of Talbot County, where he served until his death.

It was there in that moment that Huff decided she too wanted to become a first at something.

“I didn’t know how I was going to become a first, but I knew I wanted to be a first,” she said.

Huff discussed her aspirations with her mother, Kendra Huff, and decided she wanted to be the first high school student in her family to graduate Albany Technical College with an associate’s degree.

“Taylor shared her goal with me and we mapped out her course of study to make it happen,” Kendra Huff said. “Her father (William Huff) and I really wanted her to have a normal high school experience so we opted to begin the dual enrollment program.”

Following her college plan was challenging at first, according to Huff. Once she started completing course after course, though, Huff said it made the victory that much sweeter.

“The road to reaching my goal was not easy,” she said. “There were times when I wanted to give up, but my mom pushed me and told me that I just needed to believe in myself.

“After I finished the fall semester and only had one semester to go, that was when it hit me that I was actually going to reach my goal.”

Through tackling multiple courses at ATC, Huff is now eligible for certification as a nursing aide, phlebotomist and central sterile processing technician.

“What I liked best about the program was the opportunities I had during clinicals to intern at a local nursing home, physician’s office, as well as observe a live surgery at the hospital,” Huff said.

From her clinical experience and watching the best of the best show her the ropes, Huff said her ultimate goal is to become a pharmacist.

Huff’s success does not begin and end with her dual degree.

At Albany Tech, Huff also participated in the President’s Leadership Institute, which included activities on self-management, goal-setting, civic and campus life activities, cultural opportunities, and community service.

In becoming a first as a high school junior, on April 25, Huff achieved her goal and became the first high school junior in her family to graduate ATC with an associate’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Furthering her education, Huff plans to take classes at Albany State University during her senior year of high school before she ventures off to an out-of-state college.

Huff said that she would recommend high school students like herself, who have a plan and are focused, to participate in dual enrollment.

“You have to be focused because deadlines are deadlines, and you have to make sure that you read your syllabus and projected learning schedule to stay on target,” she said. “If they can do that then they will be successful as well.”

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