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Brody Brown jump-starts his medical school dream with Early College

Written by
Stephen Mease

February 16, 2022


Brody Brown

Brody Brown of Williamstown has had dreams of becoming a doctor since middle school. And he hasn’t let anything stop him – not even a global pandemic.

When his school effectively reduced course offerings due to COVID – an unfortunate reality for many small high schools that struggled to balance academics and safety at the start of the pandemic – Brody didn’t settle for postponing the advanced classes he knew he’d need for college and medical school. Instead, he politely requested a meeting with his guidance counselor to brainstorm alternatives.

Brody Brown of Williamstown, VT“They had cohorted us to reduce exposure in case of an outbreak,” Brody recalls. “I originally got my schedule with a PE class, an art class and an English class. It was just those three courses for six weeks, and then three more courses for another six, and then three more for another six. And that just didn't seem feasible for attaining college admissions. AP courses, honors courses, any advanced type, of course, was kind of out of the picture, because there's always an exam to prep for, and prepping for an exam in six-week intervals doesn’t really work.”

So, Brody ended up enrolling in an online program through Brigham Young University, in partnership with the Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative, a program that facilitates online learning for high school students whose preferred courses are either not available at their school, or not possible due to schedule conflicts.

While Brody completed his (very rigorous) junior year entirely from his bedroom, his foresight and creative thinking allowed him to complete all his high school requirements a year ahead of schedule, making him eligible for the Early College program and allowing him to take courses at Norwich University. True to form, Brody went all-in at Norwich, completing 18 credits during the fall semester and committing to 19 credits this spring. In fact, he will complete all the freshman-year pre-med requirements before he graduates high school, effectively allowing him to earn his bachelor’s degree in three years.

While the work at Norwich is harder than high school and involves more independent study, Brody says it’s not unmanageable. In most classes, he’s among other freshmen, but in his upper-200-level personal finance class, he’s among sophomores, juniors, and seniors. 

“For me, it's a little weird” being the only high school student in the room, Brody says. But for his classmates, most of whom don’t know he’s still in high school, “it's kind of like, I'm just a freshman, sitting with my peers. It's definitely been interesting to adapt to the increased pace of things, and it’s been great having others in the room who are as interested as I am.”

“Brody is one of the most dedicated students I have had the pleasure of working with,” says Chelsea Martin, a counselor in VSAC’s Talent Search program, who has worked with Brody for the last two years. Martin worked closely with Brody as he chose his Norwich courses, to make sure that all his credits would transfer over to the University of Vermont, where he applied Early Action at the end of the summer. Not only was Brody accepted to UVM in September, but he was also offered the prestigious Green and Gold Scholarship, which covers his entire tuition.

Brody also applied to Harvard, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Middlebury, Dartmouth, and Boston University, but unfortunately, most of them won’t accept transfer credits. So, if he gets more good news when he hears back from these schools in March, Brody says he’ll have a big decision to make. “If I were to get into everything, it would probably come down to aid and who takes the most credits,” he says. “Being here at Norwich this year, I really don't want to waste it.”

Brody, who is the youngest (by a good 10 years) of all the siblings and stepsiblings in his large, blended family, had hard work modeled for him by all four of his parents and stepparents. His dad is a retired police officer; his stepmom is a transportation analyst at Keurig Dr. Pepper; his stepdad is a carpenter and maple sugarer; and his mom rose from a retail store employee to the owner of Quarry Hill Quick Stop in Barre, where Brody picked up a 30-hour-per-week work schedule last year alongside his demanding course load.

While Brody received plenty of support and encouragement from his entire family, including his grandparents and his aunt and uncle, he couldn’t always find answers to his college-application questions at home, since he will be the first in his family to go to college. So, he often looked to Chelsea, his VSAC counselor, for guidance. 

“We meet once a month and discuss how classes are going, what I've been doing, and what else I need to do to prepare for next steps. that's been a really big help,” Brody says. “She's been really helpful, specifically for Norwich, making sure I took the classes that would transfer to UVM, and that would meet the requirements of freshman year. That's probably been the biggest help.” Chelsea also looked over Brody’s applications before he submitted them, “making sure all the T’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted,” and she offered critical guidance on the financial aid forms. “The FAFSA, and the CSS profile for my Ivy League schools -- my parents wouldn't have known what to do with that. I definitely had a lot of help from Chelsea.”

Brody’s conscientious nature extends to a very mature sensitivity to the needs of his community, and he has followed his heart to find meaningful ways to give back. When he was in seventh grade, one of his good friends died from leukemia, a tragic event that ignited his interest in medicine and inspired him to do an annual toy drive for UVM Children’s Hospital. Between that and his other fundraising pursuit – an annual food drive for the Vermont Foodbank – Brody has raised over $18,000 since 2016. He also coaches youth basketball and has volunteered as a peer educator for Planned Parenthood New England, where he visits local middle and high school health classes to teach sexual education and reproductive health.

As for what lies ahead for him after college and med school, Brody says, “I’m thinking maybe a surgeon. And I love kids, so maybe a pediatric surgeon. But, wow, there’s a long way between now and then,” he says with a smile.

Will all that happen in Vermont? Brody says he isn’t sure.

“I'm really not a fan of the cold. So, I think I do see myself moving out of state, but, you know, with the possibility of coming back at some point. I think moving away gives you the chance to really value where you grew up. And if that's the case, then at some point, I'm sure I'll be back.”

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