After starting college at 11 years old, Leesa Hovius, now 19, recently received her second associate’s degree at Rowan College at Burlington County.
Her degree, an associate’s in American Sign Language/Deaf Studies, an endeavor that started back in sixth grade, was earned in the spring after completing her first degree, an associate’s in music, in December.
Back when Leesa was in her first year of being homeschooled, her mother attended a homeschool information session at RCBC to prepare herself for when her daughter turned 18 to go to college. In the session, she found out that homeschoolers could start taking college courses whenever they’re ready.
Leesa started taking classes almost a year after she began her homeschool education, in fifth grade. All throughout elementary school, her mother, Robin, considered if homeschool was the right decision, and didn’t want to regret taking her children out of the safety net that is public education.
At the end of Leesa’s fourth-grade year, Robin finally decided to make the switch, after being told that her children couldn’t take more than two weeks off to travel.
Since then, Leesa was enrolled part-time in one or two classes per semester at RCBC. She took classes like Piano 1, an instrument she knew well. After going to class with older students on the college campus, she would then go home to take her high school classes in her kitchen, with her mother as the teacher.
One of the weirdest things about attending college so young, according to Leesa, is the silence that comes when college-aged students see her walk into the classroom.
“I would walk in and everybody would just shut up. They’d say ‘the child’s here, we can’t say anything around her,’” joked Leesa.
Leesa’s family traveled constantly. So far, she’s been to five of the seven continents with her family, all while attaining both her homeschool sixth- through eighth-grade and college education at the same time.
Robin pursued her belief that children learn in a million different ways by teaching her children in a unique way. She and her husband, instead of drop off their children at public school, would take them to the places they were teaching them about in their kitchen.
“Life, in general, is all about learning, so whether you’re in a classroom or are standing out in front of the Parthenon, there’s always learning going on,” said Robin.
Besides the Parthenon in Greece, the family explored Italy, such as Pompeii and Rome, among other historic sites around the world.
The experiences shaped a passion in ancient mythology for both Leesa and her sister.
“It was kind of cool to read about it and study about it in history class, and then go and actually see the places that it was talking about,” said Leesa.
In the future, Leesa hopes to pursue a dance career and work on a cruise ship, a place that she practically grew up on. As of now, she isn’t planning on going back to school, but she hopes to travel to Australia in the near future, one of the only two continents she’s never visited.