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Triple major to use English as career cornerstone


ASU sophomore Kimberly Koerth
November 05, 2013

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

On track to earn three degrees by 2016, high-achieving ASU sophomore Kimberly Koerth says her studies in English will be the foundation for her future career.

The 17-year-old, who is majoring in journalism and English while pursuing her master’s in mass communication, said she plans on teaching English or literature at the college level. 

“A lot of people think, ‘Oh an English degree, what are you going to do with that?’” Koerth said. “There are a lot of options; I can use that to teach. (Journalism and English) are both writing-based, so they go hand-in-hand. It’s a subject you love. That’s what it is for me.” 

Koerth skipped a grade in elementary school and started taking classes at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz. at age 12; four years later she graduated from Casa Verde High School in Casa Grande, Ariz. and collected an associate of arts degree at age 15, maintaining a 4.0 GPA at both institutions. 

The National Merit Scholar received international attention when she obtained her high school diploma and associate of arts degree at the same time, which prompted feature stories in The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, ABC15.com and Good Morning America.

Koerth applied to Columbia University in New York and the University of Arizona in Tucson, but chose ASU because of the Cronkite School’s national reputation and strong programming at Barrett, the Honors College. She plans on using her skills from journalism and foundation in English to instruct others.

“Back in high school, already this was something I could see myself doing – teaching,” Koerth said. “I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 5, on and off. Coming to ASU, I loved all my journalism classes, but I really wanted to take the literature classes too.”

Koerth was admitted in 2012 to ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she is on track to receive three degrees. 

In addition to taking 20 credit hours in the summer and 18 credit hours this semester, Koerth is making sure to carve out time for extracurricular activities. She serves as the chief copy editor for the Downtown Devil, an online publication run by ASU students. She is also an intern for the Cronkite Journal, a secretary for Phoenexus – a downtown Phoenix collaborative devoted to creative writing – and an assistant community director for BLAST’D, a Barrett community service group. 

In her spare time, Koerth participates in poetry slams around downtown, partakes in First Fridays in Phoenix and usually attends concerts. Koerth insists sleep factors in somewhere, but it’s not high on the priority list.

She plans to enroll in the Teach for America program in 2016 to get her master's in English or literature.

“That degree would enable me to teach at a university or community college in a few years,” Koerth said. “That may or may not change, but I’m confident I’ll have many choices when I’m ready to start my career.”