16-Year-Old Graduates From Texas A&M
From Doogie Howser, M.D. to Sheldon Cooper, the idea of child prodigies attending college before they can get a driver’s license has often been fodder for sit-com humor. According to 16-year-old Noel Jett, who graduated this month from Texas A&M, although such situations are quirky, the profoundly gifted often struggle emotionally and she hopes to devote her professional life to helping them.
Jett, a Fort Worth native, accepted her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the College of Liberal Arts’ commencement ceremony at Reed Arena on May 16.
She says most of her professors and fellow students were unaware of her age, and those few in-the-know were supportive.
The Road To Early College
Jett’s unique journey to college began in kindergarten when she was already reading chapter books. When testing revealed she was gifted, her mother chose homeschooling.
“I took two college-level math classes when I was 10 [one online and one taught by a tutor],” she recalls. “When I was 12, I decided to try public school again.”
She started out well in the small, STEM-focused high school, but it “quickly became a difficult experience for me, both socially, in that some people were hateful, and academically as it was several steps backwards.” After one semester, Jett dropped out, returned to home schooling and co-enrolled at Tarrant County College.
At community college, she was able to earn the credits to finish high school and start earning college credits.
She graduated high school at the age of 13, then applied to four universities, including Texas A&M, and was accepted by them all.
“Of the four schools, A&M was the most respectful, helpful and enthusiastic,” she notes. “Everyone I dealt with during the admissions, acceptance and enrollment process was just really nice. It was also the most affordable.”
It helped that her experience with Texas A&M began years before. “I had been attending the Physics and Engineering Festival here since I was pretty young, as well as SEE-Math camp. Even then, people were very kind and helpful.”
Being An Aggie
Jett says life as an Aggie was challenging and exciting; she took part in a number of extracurricular activities. “I really enjoyed Elephant Walk,” she recalls. “And I had an amazing time at Big Event.” She also writes for Texas A&M’s satirical newspaper, “The Mugdown,” and is a member of Cepheid Variable, a student organization comprised of science-fiction/fantasy fans.
“I helped out at AggieCon [Cepheid Variable’s annual convention] and the Aporkalypse, the end of the year celebration that includes probably 20 different meat dishes!
“But I’m most involved in Young Americans for Liberty, a political group through which I’ve been able to attend a lot of fun conferences, including one in D.C. – definitely one of my most memorable college experiences.”