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News: Dr. Allison Sweat, age 22, says Roane State dual enrollment was "crucial step" in academic journey

News: Dr. Allison Sweat, age 22, says Roane State dual enrollment was "crucial step" in academic journey

Dr. Allison Sweat at her graduation from Belmont with her parents, Timothy and Deborah.

Aug. 25, 2016

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

WARTBURG — This Morgan County native has been on a fast track to go full circle.

Allison Sweat — make that Dr. Allison Sweat — has returned to her hometown of Wartburg after earning a doctorate in pharmacy from Belmont University in Nashville.

At age 22, she's the youngest student ever to obtain a doctorate from that prestigious university's College of Pharmacy.

She's now filling prescriptions at Apothecare Pharmacy on Knoxville Highway just six years after she started working at her first job there as a clerk while a 16-year-old. The youngest of five children of Timothy and Deborah Sweat of Wartburg, she's also a new homeowner.

The secrets of her success, she says, include hard work and a program offered by Roane State Community College.

While a student at Central High School, she started Roane State's dual enrollment program, where high school students take college-level courses and earn high school credit and college credit at the same time.

Roane State's Morgan County campus is next door to Central, so Sweat would go to high school in the morning, work as a pharmacy clerk in the afternoon and take college courses in the evening.

Her after-school work at Apothecare convinced her that her calling was pharmacy.

Dual enrollment had been around for several years but was gaining in popularity when Sweat enrolled. She took two dual enrollment classes her junior year and 10 during her senior year.

"Dual enrollment with Roane State served as a crucial step in my academic career because it exposed me to college-level education at my own pace," she said. "Another benefit was the financial options Roane State offered to make my academic goals more attainable on the paycheck of a part-time pharmacy clerk."

By the time she graduated from high school in 2011, Sweat had compiled 41 hours of college credit, or the equivalent of some two years of college.

With her proven academic prowess, she won scholarships that paved the way to an all-expenses-paid stay at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. While there, Sweat majored in chemistry as part of the prerequisites for pharmacy school. She studied for the pharmacy admissions test and was in a scholarship-based work-study position.

After a year there, she passed the pharmacy college admissions test. "It was a gamble because I hadn't taken all the courses, and I wasn't expecting to get in."

But she did and then won admission to Belmont University's College of Pharmacy and began in the fall of 2012. She graduated with a doctorate in May. "I don't know how anyone could have graduated faster than I did," she said.

Sweat has some advice for new college students: "Use the opportunities that are given to you, and make every class count."

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. It was founded in 1971 and has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, Lafollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge and Wartburg.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. All colleges in the system offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit tncommunitycolleges.org.

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