When Grace Bush receives her diploma from Florida Atlantic University , she'll have
something else to look forward to: high school graduation the following week. Bush,
16, is a senior at FAU High, a school on campus where students normally earn three
years of college credit while still in high school. But Bush started at 13 at Broward College
and accelerated so quickly she's already finished four years of college credits. She will receive
her bachelor's in criminal justice at a ceremony. Her high school graduation will be on May 9.
Bush is FAU's youngest graduate this year and one of the youngest ever. Since FAU opened
50 years ago, 10 students aged 16 or younger have received a bachelor's degree. The youngest
was child prodigy Edith Stern, who was 15 when she received her degree in 1968. She went on
to become a trailblazing engineer for IBM who has been issued 128 patents.
Bush, one of nine children, isn't the first in her family to get a college diploma at a young age.
Her sister Gisla graduated from FAU last year at 18 and is pursuing a master's there. Her
17-year-old sister Gabrielle expects to graduate from FAU this summer. Her cousin James
Martin, of Tamarac, graduated last year at 17 and is now studying at Princeton University.
All went through FAU High.
Bush's mother, also named Gisla Bush, has home-schooled her children, which enabled
them to learn at a fast pace. But the speed at which Grace could learn surprised even her
mother. "She was very accelerated. She started reading at 2 and she could perform as well
as her older sister who was three years her senior," the mother said. Bush's parents wanted
their nine children to earn college credit in high school because they can't afford to send them
all to college. Florida's dual enrollment programs allow high performing students to take courses
at local colleges for free before they graduate high school. They earn high school and college
credit for the same courses and can save thousands of dollars. Bush started taking classes at
Broward College's Hollywood campus when she was 13, accompanying her older sisters who
were also attending. At 14, she scored well enough on an FAU High entrance exam to start as
She has taken a full load of classes every semester since, including summers. She balanced
her academics with music, playing the flute for the Miami Music Project orchestra and the South
Florida Youth Symphony. "My music is my stress reliever," she said. She usually got home from
her music activities around 10 p.m. every night and would stay up until about 2 a.m. studying.
Her father, Bobby, would take her to FAU every day, and she'd nap on the commute. She never
attended school dances, football games parties or many other popular high school and college
activities. "I missed out on being a kid, goofing off and wasting time," she said.
With a petite figure and youthful face, Grace Bush didn't exactly look like the other college
students."We never told anyone our age," Grace Bush said. "But sometimes we would walk
through the campus and someone would say, 'You look like you're 10 years old." Although
she strove for a 4.0 GPA, she did get a few B's and will finish a 3.81. She's planning to pursue
a master's degree at FAU this fall and then go to law school. She'll devote this summer to
studying for the LSAT. And she's setting her ultimate career goals high. "I would like to be
chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court," she said.
Source: Sun Sentinel