Justin Wheelock

Justin WheelockLFCC student and Luray High School senior Justin Wheelock wants to use his brain to help other people’s brains.

The aspiring neurologist recently came in first place at the neuroscience-themed Brain Bee competition at James Madison University. It was for teens ages 13-19.

Wheelock went on to compete at the national tournament at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Penn.

“It was really cool,” he says. “It was all based on brain anatomy and chemistry and different diseases and disorders, and over-arching neuroscience questions.”

Besides competing in group and individual events during the Brain Bee, Wheelock and his fellow competitors had the chance to eat in one of the dining halls on the JMU campus and explore some of the labs.

“We got to examine different human brain specimens,” he says.

Once competitors had registered for the Brain Bee, they were given different resources to use in preparation. Wheelock’s dual-enrollment anatomy and physiology class he took last year also gave him an edge in the competition.

“The entire Brain Bee experience was great exposure to the field of neuroscience, and I got the chance to listen to incredible lectures by people in the field, and connect with so many others who are interested in it,” he says. “Just to be a part of it was incredible.”

Besides taking LFCC dual-enrollment classes at Luray High School, he has also taken LFCC classes online in the summers and at the Page County Technical Center. Some of the pre-allied health classes he has taken include psychology, nutrition and medical terminology.

“This spring I will be graduating with my associate degree,” Wheelock says.

He has really enjoyed his allied health related dual-enrollment classes.

“Professor Kathy Ware has done a really good job of teaching us the material in anatomy and physiology, as well as medical terms,” Wheelock says. “All the labs were really interesting.”

Wheelock is hoping to be accepted to Vanderbilt University, and has already gotten into the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Case Western Reserve University. He thinks he will major in neuroscience on a pre-med path.

After that, Wheelock plans to go to medical school, and at this time hopes to specialize in neurology.

He is among a growing number of students from Luray and Page County high schools who are completing one or two years of college before they even graduate from high school.

Last May, 35 Luray High students earned either their associate degree or received recognition as governor’s scholars, meaning they’d attained at least 15 college credits – all prior to their graduation from high school. Page County High boasted 18 such students.

“I’ve been on the path for pretty much my whole high school career to graduate with my associate degree simultaneously as my high school diploma, and my teachers and professors have been preparing us, and giving us the opportunity to take the classes,” Wheelock says.

A high school student pays approximately $200 to take a dual-enrollment course through LFCC. Unfortunately, there are academically capable students whose families cannot afford the cost. Several years ago, the LFCC Foundation established a dual-enrollment scholarship fund.

“A donation to this fund will help a student earn college credit in high school,” explains Liv Heggoy, executive director of the foundation. “This opportunity could change their future.”

You can learn more about dual enrollment at lfcc.edu/dual. For more about the LFCC Educational Foundation, visit lfcc.edu/foundation.

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