K12 Student Turns the World Into Her Classroom So She Can Save It

Originally published in 9 News Denver — January 6, 2019

When you think about life, sometimes it’s all about perspective. When Makyna Schmollinger started taking classes online, her perspective is that it set her free.

“I have lot more opportunities to do more in the community since I’m not at school 8 hours a day,” Makyna said.

The high school junior attends classes at home on her laptop through Destinations Career Academy of Colorado. But she said her real classroom is the world.

“I’ve been to Italy, Greece, Costa Rica, and Mexico,” Makyna said.

Taking classes online allowed her to give aid to Central America.

“When I went there, it was right after Hurricane Nathan. So, I saw the devastation that it did to the country and how they were trying to help themselves and I wanted to go and help,” Makyna said.

She helps in faraway lands despite much anxiety from her mother, Norea Schmollinger.

“I don’t sleep real well while she’s gone,” Norea said. “Yeah, it’s a constant worry. But, you can’t shelter your kids from everything.”

Makyna feels that it’s her duty to serve.

“I’m really fortunate. So, I like to give back. I’ve been a part of multiple food drives. I’ve done a lot of building for Habitat for Humanity,” Makyna said.

Schmollinger said her daughter is learning more from her travels that she can in a classroom.

“I love hearing her stories when she comes back, seeing it through her eyes and her descriptions is great,” Norea said.

Before every place Makyna goes, she works in Loveland 35 hours-a-week in addition to her online schooling because she wants to pay for all of her travel expenses herself.

“Just to watch her grow and be this amazing person who’s more grown-up than most adults I know to be honest with you,” Norea said.

Makyna’s next stop is a marine conservation trip to the South Pacific.

“Like, how many 17-year-olds have gone to Fiji?” Makyna said.

She said she has this freedom because she’s not tied down to a regular school.

“Yeah, I felt like my life was really confined to just school and I don’t want it that way,” Makyna said.

She has a perspective on learning online and on learning — perspective for life.

To learn more about Destinations Career Academy of Colorado, visit https://codca.k12.com/.

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