Most students enrolled in Tompkins Cortland Community College’s CollegeNow early degree program – a program that allows high school students to earn an Associate’s Degree while attending high school – wind up earning just one degree by the program’s end.
However, Lansing High School senior Monique Kapur-Mauleon broke that trend back in mid-April when she graduated from the community college with two degrees – Math Science and Biology. In fact, she became the first CollegeNow early degree student to attain such a feat.
Now, with 90 college credits in her portfolio, Kapur-Mauleon is set to attend the University at Buffalo this coming fall as a senior at the age of 17, with the hope of getting accepted into the university’s dental school and, assuming everything goes as scheduled, graduating from dental school and entering the dentistry profession at 22 years old.
According to her mother, Kristna Kapur, becoming a dentist has been Monique’s goal since she was very little.
“Since she was four, she used to say, ‘I want to be a dentist. I want to go to Cornell,’” Kapur said. “You don’t have to make life decisions at four, and so she would cry. So this has always been her dream.”
Once she graduates from dental school and completes her residency, Kapur-Mauleon hopes to work for her family’s practice, Fall Creek Family Dentistry in Ithaca, which her mother and father, Luis T. Mauleon, Jr., and where she has been assisting (taking x-rays, cleaning the rooms and the equipment in each one) since about 15 years old.
“I’ve always just been around their office, like after school everyday we’d go there,” Kapur-Mauleon said of where her interest in dentistry came from. “I’m just kind of somewhat familiar with it.”
Kapur-Mauleon first began taking courses at Tompkins Cortland Community College when she was 14 years old (on-campus courses at 15 years old). Like her father, who was able to skip undergraduate studies and go straight to dental school, she possesses the drive to reach her goals by the quickest means.
“I always knew I wanted to be a dentist,” she said. “So I figured if I could just get where I wanted to be, why waste time in the meantime.”
Her academic determination can be best summed up with two instances. This academic year, Kapur-Mauleon enrolled in Organic Chemistry II at Tompkins Cortland Community College, a course that initially she thought was a requirement for the biology degree, though it ultimately turned out not to be. Unfortunately, the class wound up being cancelled a week before the start of the semester due to so few people signing up for the course.
As a Plan B, Kapur-Mauleon had her parents drive her to Onondaga Community College every other Monday, from 6 to 10 p.m., to take the course there.
“She’s quite committed, as her parents are as well,” Kapur said jokingly.
One time, during the summer heading into her junior year at Lansing High School, she was out horseback riding when her horse hit her face, breaking her nose.
“She was horseback riding. The horse went up, hit her in the face,” Kapur said. “She’s covered in blood like Carrie, and [we] took her to convenient care – broke her nose, black eye, huge swollen nose.”
Despite the injuries, Kapur-Mauleon got herself up to attend summer school – summer school – at 7:45 in the morning the next day.
Her passion for learning and her inquisitive nature are on full display in the classroom.
“I just ask a lot of questions that don’t necessarily have to do with exactly what we’re learning at the moment,” she said. “When I was in ninth grade, my biology teacher would be like, ‘That’s an AP question,’ and so then when I got to AP with her she’d be like, ‘That’s beyond the scope of this course.’ And she genuinely answered, but it’s just when you’re in that type of setting and going towards a Regents or an AP [exam] don’t necessarily have time to ask questions about things that aren’t directly related.”
“She’s that kid like when they say, ‘Class is over. Any questions,’ and she says, ‘Yes,’” Kapur said.
Though her focus is on dentistry, Kapur-Mauleon said she hopes to find time to study other subjects of interest, such as the Latin language, marine biology and botany, and continue hobbies like creative writing (she said she wrote a fiction book that she published on Wattpad, an app that provides writers to publish their own content).
But for now, school is the main priority.
“Most of the things … other than studying I don’t really have time to do at this moment,” she said. “But I’m hoping that once school ends this year I’ll have more time to do things like that.”