19-year-old earns bachelor's degree from Fresno State in 2 years

FRESNO, Calif. -- For most students, finishing a bachelor's degree in the typical four years is a challenge.

One Fresno State student just earned hers in half the time.

For two years straight, Taylor Ounesavath took at least four classes a semester. No winter breaks. No summer breaks.

"It's hard work," said Ounesavath, who joins her parents as a Bulldog alumna with a health science degree.

In high school, she took Advanced Placement classes and dual enrollment courses at Fresno City College, earning 12 units before her freshman year.

"I made myself a roadmap to plan out the rest of my classes for the rest of college so I could graduate, and I figured out that I could graduate in two years, so I just wanted to challenge myself to do that," she said.

Robert PageSmith is an academic counselor at Fresno State and says in his 15 years there, only one other student has accomplished the same feat.

"I just was like, 'are you sure?' and I would tell students that, 'hey, you know, if you feel confident in taking 18 units, go for it," he said.

But she wasn't always determined to finish college early. While playing sports in high school, she suffered from concussions, which affected her in the classroom.

"Which kind of made me lose interest in school and I wasn't doing very well. So once I got straight A's my first semester, I was like, oh wait, I'm actually smart," said Ounesavath.

What's next for this 19-year-old? Pursuing a medical profession is still the goal, but she's taking a year off of school to become an EMT.

"Then I'm going to apply to Master's programs for cardiovascular perfusion, with the hopes of becoming a perfusionist, which is a medical professional who works the heart-lung machines during open-heart surgery."

Fresno State's six-year graduation rate is 55 percent, while the four-year rate is 14 percent, according to PageSmith.
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