Nick Notaro already has a vision for the rest of his life. “I don’t see myself being in one spot for a really long time,” he says. “I want to be constantly moving.”
Notaro’s quest to get ahead is reflected in his status as a sophomore at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville – even though he just graduated from Eastern Technical High School in May 2018.
How’d he do that?
By earning 39 college credits in high school, via classes at the Community College of Baltimore County (which partners with Baltimore County Public Schools) and excelling in Advanced Placement classes (in Spanish, calculus, and statistics).
“My mom told me about the opportunity to take CCBC classes,” says Notaro. “I took my first class, Japanese 101, in the spring of 10th grade.”
Notaro immediately loved the convenience of CCBC, the class options, and taking semester vs. yearlong courses. Besides that, he recognized that taking a college class would more or less guarantee that he would earn college credits, whereas taking AP classes in those subjects in which he did not excel involved more of a toss up as to whether he would walk away with college credits.
“Lucky for me,” Notaro adds, “just before I started English 101 and 102 at CCBC, they changed the classes to be more content-driven based on your major. I got to take English for creative writing majors, and that was really good for me. I really like creative writing. I made a personal connection with my English 102 professor and worked on a lot of poetry and short stories. That made me a better writer and really helped me write a successful college admissions essay.”
Notaro amassed the bulk of his credits in Grade 12 when he only attended Eastern Tech half day.
“Our Early Access Programs continue to grow thanks to the strong partnership between CCBC and BCPS,” said CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis. “It is wonderful to hear when students like Nick have earned a full year’s worth of college credits by the time they complete high school. CCBC is committed to increasing access and helping students obtain credentials that accelerate their completion of a college degree or industry certification.”
Enrolled in the Interactive Media Production program at Eastern Tech, Notaro also graduated with certifications in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.
“Interactive media has never been a passion of mine,” Notaro admits, “but I gained useful skills in the program that I might be able to use in my career or to earn extra money.”
“I wanted to be at Eastern Tech,” Notaro says, “because it’s a prestigious school. At Eastern Tech, I always felt like I was being challenged to learn more. Students at Eastern are high-striving and high-achieving.”
According to David Harrison, a mathematics teacher and badminton coach at Eastern Tech, "Nick was the quintessential high-achiever here at Eastern Tech. When we first met on the badminton court, he mentioned that he might have to leave practice early for college classes. I thought to myself that he might have 6 to 9 credits when graduating, just like a lot of our seniors. Fast forward to his senior year in my AP Statistics class, Nick told me that he was taking Differential Equations at CCBC. I was extremely impressed because I didn't take that class until my sophomore year at college. When I inquired about his classes and credits, again, I was impressed. However, this should have shocked no one that truly knows Nick. He has incredible determination and tremendous work habits that have truly made him successful in all endeavors, in and out of school."
Many factors led to Notaro choosing University of Tennessee-Knoxville as his undergraduate college. On a family vacation during the summer of 2017, he visited the school and immediately felt at home. Being very social, he liked the size of the school. He also liked the city of Knoxville, the choices of majors, and the many opportunities to sing and to study abroad.
He is only a few months into his first year, but already Notaro is sure that he made the right choice. “I love it,” he says. ”There is a big sense of community here.”
And he is an active member of that community. Notaro sings in an a cappella group, plays on the badminton team, and is a member of the school’s Linguistic Student Association.
Although he began as a linguistics major, Notaro is already thinking about changing his major to mathematics and minor to linguistics, and then getting a graduate degree in linguistics.
“I think most of us love the things that we are good at,” Notaro says. “I got my ability in mathematics from my mother and father, and then I just took that and ran with it.” (Notaro’s mom is Tammy Rudolph, supervisor of secondary mathematics for Baltimore County Public Schools.)
The decision to switch majors is about practicality for Notaro. “I can be done with a math degree in three years,” he says, “and there is always a market for people really good in math.”
He hopes to find a job that will help pay for his graduate studies in linguistics.
He says that he sees a strong connection between the subjects: mathematics and linguistics. “Linguistics is like math but with words,” Notaro says. “In both areas, you have to look at how things work, break them down to their parts, and solve problems.”
Notaro’s ultimate goal is to achieve fluency in Spanish, Japanese, and sign language and to work in international relations. He plans to study aboard in Costa Rica and Japan before graduating from the University of Tennessee.
At some point, he says, “I absolutely want to live in another country. I have always had a big sense of wanderlust. There are so many places I want to go – maybe 30 countries. I am my truest version of myself when I am traveling.”