16 year-old receives college degree ahead of high school diploma

Young, Gifted & Black Series

By Taki S. Raton

Grace Bush

Grace Bush

Music is a stress reliever. Her academics are balanced out by playing the flute both for the Miami Music Project Orchestra and the South Florida Youth Symphony.

Her ultimate career goal is to be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

She is young, gifted and Black.

At the still flowering age of 16, Grace Bush received her college degree in criminal justice at the 9 a.m. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) graduating ceremony on Friday, May 2, 2014.

And just seven days following on Friday, May 9, Grace graduates as a high school senior from Florida Atlantic University (FAU HS) High School.

“It’s kind of weird that I graduated college before high school,” said our scholar teen in a published account.

How did she do it? Florida Atlantic University High School is a dual enrollment high school on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. FAU HS is not a part of the Palm Beach County School System but is a public school under the auspices of the State University System.

According to the FAU HS website, students spend their 9th grade in a traditional high school classroom setting but are pursuing advanced coursework.

Foundation is thereby anchored for grades 10 through 12 where all classes are college level taken at FAU for both high school and college credit.

So typically, when students graduate form FAU HS, they have already earned three years of college credits.

As quoted by CBS4 News co-anchor Walter Makaula in CBSMiami in his May 3, 2014 post “Teen Gets High School & College Diploma in The Same Week,” Grace reveals that,”I started when I was 13 at Broward College and I also took my classes throughout the summer.

So I was able to finish it before four years.” She has taken a full load of classes every semester since to include those summers.

Although she strove for a 4.0 GPA, she did earn a few B’s and finished college with a 3.81.

On the secondary level, Grace had scored well enough on an FAU HS entrance exam to skip her freshman year and start as a sophomore.

So she was already high school accelerated. The family selected Broward College’s Hollywood campus for Grace to begin her college studies because that is where her sisters were also attending.

A year later, she transferred to FAU further combining her high school and college degree studies at the same time.

Grace is the third oldest of nine children in the Bush family and her mother, Gisla Bush, home-schooled all of her kids.

Zachary Fagenson in Yahoo News on May 6 shares that her youngest child is only 11 months old and that her husband works as a human resource analyst for the city of Pompano Beach.

Mama Bush is the daughter of a roofer with a fifth grade education and is herself one of 10 siblings, all of whom graduated from college.

Bush, cites Fagenson, studied architecture and law and credits Grace’s grandfather, William Chennault – a World War Two veteran and grandson of enslaved parents – for their family’s work ethic.

Grace was homeschooled until the age of 13 and began reading around the age of 2, her mother said. But the speed at which Grace could learn surprised even her mother.

“I sat her on my lap and read to her every day for a few minutes so that I could move on to do what I needed to do with my other kids,” she says in Fagenson.

“Then one day, I saw her reading by herself and from that point on, she did everything her sisters did. Reading as well as her older sister who was three years her senior.”

Disciplined to follow a demanding schedule, Grace rises at 5:30 a.m. every morning from the family home in Hollywood, arriving at school before the first bell rings at 8 a.m. She would spend the next 14 hours combining high school and college classes to include a schedule for playing the flute in two orchestras.

She is home by 11 p.m. to study for three hours before drifting to sleep.

As noted in the Scott Travis May 1 Sun Sentinel report, Grace never attended school dances, football games, parties or any other popular high school and college activities.

“I missed out on being a kid, goofing off and wasting time,” as quoted in Travis.

Her parents wanted all of their nine children to earn college credit while in high school because they could not afford to send them all to college.

Florida’s dual enrollment program would allow high performing students to take courses at local colleges for free before they graduate from high school thereby saving thousands of dollars.

“Everything was paid for, tuition, books, transportation.

That was to our benefit,” she said in Fagenson And home-schooling is really paying off for African American youth.

Travis records that her sister Gisla graduated from FAU last year at 18 and is pursuing a master’s degree there and Grace’s 17 year-old sister Gabrielle is expected to graduate from FAU this summer.

Her cousin, James Martin of Tamarac, Florida graduated FAU and is now studying at Princeton.

Says FAU high school principal Tammy Ferguson in the Sun Sentinel, “college graduations are sooner than high school graduations.”

Grace has assumed the title at FAU as being the youngest graduate this year and one of the youngest grads ever. Since FAU’s premier opening 50 years ago, 10 students aged 16 or younger have received a B.A. degree, the youngest being Edith Stern who in 1968 received her degree at the age of 15.

Stern received her master’s degree from Michigan State University at the age of 17 and would continue on to become a distinguished engineer and master inventor at IBM with 128 patents to her name.

Grace is planning to pursue a master’s degree at FAU this fall and then on to law school.

She will devote this summer to studying for the LSAT.

In her words noting CBSNEWS, her sights are,

““To study for the LSAT, so I can get as high a score as possible, so hopefully I can get a full ride into a good law school.”

And just as a quick update on YG&B’s two most recent profiles, Kwasi Enin (YG&B April 12, 2014) has selected the college he will attend this fall.

As reported in YG&B on April 12, 2014, Kwasi has been accepted to all eight Ivy League schools – Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania.

According to OneNews- Page on May 1, Kwasi chooses Yale after visiting the school’s campus.

“I met geniuses from all across the world, and everyone from there was so friendly and inviting.

I believe that their deep appreciation and love for music, like I have, was very critical in my decision to go there,” he says.

His plans are to study medicine and become a doctor.

Knox Daniel in an email correspondence from London on April 27 shared much appreciation for the Courier’s YG&B April 26, 2014 article on his son Joshua Beckford (“From Oxford to global acclaim, 9 year-old scholar and future neurosurgeon deemed ‘unstoppable’”).

He adds that, “Joshua was very pleased with the article and he has asked me to say a big thank you!”

He reveals that Pandctimes.com in Nigeria has asked Joshua and Daniel for an interview which will appear on the Gifted Kids website and that Joshua has also received two invitations to visit Nigeria and Ghana.

Daniel’s thanks the series for its support and coverage for the two articles on Joshua.