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March 6, 2006

Uncle Sam Wants Drew

Hope turned to heartache, then opportunity after a bright Missouri homeschool graduate was turned down for emergency medical technician (EMT) school.

Drew Smith* was homeschooled from kindergarten, and he received his diploma from his parents in the spring of 2003. After attending Pensacola Christian College for two years, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on a delayed admission basis so he could first take classes and earn his EMT certification.

Although his entrance test score was remarkably high, South Central Career Center decided they could not allow Drew to enroll for EMT classes because his high school diploma was not accredited.

Drew's family called Home School Legal Defense Association for help. HSLDA immediately called the career center's assistant director. She said that all applicants must have accredited high school diplomas because the Career Center receives federal funds for financial aid.

We explained that this requirement is no longer necessary. HSLDA helped amend federal law in 1998 to allow colleges to accept homeschool students with unaccredited high school diplomas without endangering their federal financial aid. She said she would research this issue.

A few days later, she called HSLDA and said career center officials had misinterpreted the federal guidelines, and Drew would be accepted. She agreed to update their admissions policy and call HSLDA if they needed help.

While the career center dithered, however, the U.S. Army pursued Drew. Because of his extremely high IQ and military aptitude test scores, they offered him a program where his Pensacola Christian College credits would be accepted and he would earn a paramedic license and bachelor's degree in six months if he would enlist immediately. For a young man about to ask a young woman to marry him, this was a powerful inducement.

Drew bid goodbye to his home in rural southern Missouri and joined the United States Army. The young woman accepted his proposal and a wedding is planned after boot camp.

Post Script: While in boot camp, Drew participated in a Bible study in which two young men became Christians.

*Name changed to protect family's privacy.