MORRISTOWN – Grainger High School senior Mason Watson, also a dual Enrollment student at Walters State, is known in Rutledge as a high achiever who gives back to his school and community. His teachers, classmates and the young students he has tutored are not surprised that some of the nation’ s most prestigious universities would like him to continue his education with them. “Mason isan amazing student,” Grainger High School guidance counselor Amanda Johnson said. “I have read his personal statement and essays he has written for different scholarships, and he always mentions the dual enrollment classes. The dual enrollment classes have played a big role in the acceptance process for Mason.”Weeks from graduation, Watson was accepted at top universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Duke and others. He was leaning toward Harvard, a school he said appeals to him partly because of his plan to major in math and computer science. “I do think Harvard would be a great place to be and to learn,” Watson said. “I like the idea of learning with people who have been pioneers in their fields.”He named Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as computer science pioneers who attended Harvard. As much as Watson admires those two influential tech entrepreneurs, there is one area where he plans to exceed their academic accomplishments: He intends to graduate. Watson credits Walters State’ s Dual Enrollment Program with helping him better position himself for achieving his academic goals. “For my senior year, it worked out better with dual enrollment through Walters State, where I was able to take classes along with classmates at my school,”he said. “Most of us are enrolled in the same courses, and I enjoy being able to interact with my high school classmates in those college courses.”Students who take dual enrollment courses find the transition from high school to college easier, “whether they come to Walters State after high school or go to another college,” said Frank Umbarger, coordinator for Distance Education. “By participating in dual enrollment while in high school, students learn what standard is expected in college.”Watson has been interested in computer technology since before he could even say the words. “My parents used to come into the living room and find meat the computer, when I was a baby,”he said. “So I’ ve always been drawn to computers. It developed more into a career interest after seventh grade, when I picked up a book, ‘ C++ Programming.’”The book about general-purpose computer programming language, and a part-time job developing and improving web applications for a business in Jefferson City, helped to solidify his career interests. As a precursor to moving further toward a career in computer programming, dual enrollment classes at Walters State have helped Watson to better understand the demands of being a college student. “It has helped to challenge me,”he said. “My writing has gotten much better, and I’ ve developed more critical thinking skills for working through problems. The opportunity to ask questions and interact with upper-level college students has been helpful, too.”For more information about Walters State’ s Dual Enrollment program, contact Umbarger at(423) 585-6989 or Benjamin.Umbarger@ws.edu. Visit Walters State’ s distance education page at ws.edu to learn more about the college’ s Dual Enrollment Program.