A Friday Reminder of What Kids Can Do

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good, fun Friday post. All that serious edu-business just keeps getting in the way. But take heart, my friends, for today is once again a Happy Friday. As I was perusing the normal news, an interesting story caught my attention: A Colorado Springs student is about to earn an undergraduate degree in computer security from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS)—before finishing high school. His name is Jacob Reichard, and he’s 17.

Check out his interview:

Pretty wild stuff, if you ask me. And the fact that he and his family managed to squeak by through “miraculous” donations and garage sales is pretty impressive too. Yet the funding side of the equation wasn’t the only issue that this student faced.

“My first class met from 4:30 to 7:30 at night and most of the people were 20 or 30 years older than I was,” Reichard said. “When we were assigned groups, they all thought we should meet at bar to discuss it. I had to be the one to say, ‘um, how about Starbucks?”

No doubt some of those projects were a little awkward. I am well accustomed to the frustrations of working with old folks; you should have seen my dad trying to help me build a Lego spaceship last week. But kudos to Jacob for thriving in an environment that must have been extremely challenging. He’ll be graduating with honors when diploma time rolls around later this month. Then, Jacob will be in for a different kind of summer than most of his friends.

Like many his age, Reichard hopes to find a summer job following UCCS graduation and delivering the  salutatorian address at the May 29 Colorado Springs Early Colleges ceremony. But instead of dipping ice cream or lifeguarding, he hopes to land an internship with a company and apply his skills in computer security. In August, he plans to move to California – his first time away from home – to pursue another college degree, this time in theology. Eventually, he hopes to earn a law degree and work in the computer security field.

I’m a big enough little guy to admit that this could be slightly intimidating. Fortunately, my ego is bolstered by the fact that I have already earned a high school diploma, three undergraduate degrees, six master’s degrees, and a law degree. I am also a registered stunt pilot and am qualified to perform neurosurgery. Alright, I’m exaggerating. I only earned five master’s degrees.

For those hoping to follow suit, Jacob has some simple advice:

“My advice is to others is ‘be unreasonable’,” the precocious teen said recently when describing his college experience that began when he was 13. “Do something normal people aren’t going to do, take that step and into the unexpected and see what you come up with.”

We talk a lot about what kids can achieve if they are motivated and given the support they need. This story is great reminder that we should never sell kids short. Happy Friday, friends. I’ll see you here next week.