Nehemiah Juniel is set to become the youngest graduate from Sam Houston State University.
When the 15-year-old graduates in August with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences, he will make history for both himself and the school.
“Around the age of eight years old, I decided I wanted to become a surgeon of some sort,” he said in an interview. “As I grew, I continued to change and specify what kind of career I wanted to pursue. This culminated into my decision to study cardiology.”
The self-driven teenage genius from Madisonville, TX sat down with Postcards Magazine to tell us all a little bit more about his educational journey that has led him to becoming not only a college graduate at 15, but doing it as Summa Cum Laude, boasting a 3.7 GPA. Take a look at a snippet below of what he had to say.
How do you feel about being the youngest SHSU graduate in the school’s history?
Really, it’s just another day. I feel the same before college as I did after. I knew I could do it, it’s just not a shock to me.
So, what led you start the college journey at such a young age?
I learn really fast. The initial plan was for me to go to public school, but they could not put up enough work to keep me interested, so I was homeschooled. Mom and Dad taught me as fast as I was willing and able to learn. When I was 9, my sister Gabrielle, who was 14 at the time, studied for the TSI test, took it, and started college. I was like, “How come my sister can go to college, and I can’t?” I was confused; we were doing a lot of the same work, education-wise. For my parents, it was a lot of, “Is he mature enough to actually handle all the college material?” I just kept asking. So, they decided when I turned 11, I could go take the TSI and see what happened.
We went to Lone Star College in The Woodlands to take the TSI, and no one really expected me to pass it, but I thought I would. I had spent a whole year preparing for it.
What happened next?
The new question was, “What now?” I started summer classes that June at Lone Star College – University Park (Houston) campus. Pretty much up until I turned 13, there was a lot of that question. No one was ready for such a young student, and there were no policies or protocol for it. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Lone Star with an Associate of Science, I transferred to SHSU.
Did that sibling rivalry with your sister inspire you to begin the college journey so early?
At the beginning. Then over the next year, it was “Okay, I see I can do this now. I want to see how far I can go and make a career for myself.”
Why did you choose SHSU?
It was closer to my home in Madisonville, and also the amazing culture of the campus. The people here genuinely want to help you succeed. Initially, my major was biomedical sciences, but for the purpose of getting my degree faster, I switched to health sciences.
In your own words, describe college life as a 15-year-old. It feels natural. It has been an engaging experience, different and interesting. I really haven’t had many negative experiences, other than people getting used to me being so young.
Do you feel like you have to study more than other students due to your age?
No. I hear it from lecture. I’ll read the PowerPoint after class. Sometimes for math or science, I’ll use the textbook if there’s something I don’t understand or need to finish an assignment. Otherwise, I’ll leave it alone and know the information. I’ll study all the material again a day or two before a test, take the exam, and usually do really well.
Juniel hopes that his story will indeed help others to follow their dreams. And of course, he has a few words of advice that we all should take note of.
“Don’t get discouraged if you run into a few issues or if you fail a couple of times. As long as you keep trying, you will eventually reach your goal.”
According to the SHSU, Juniel is now preparing to take the MCAT in order to further his dream of becoming a cardiologist. To read the Nehemiah’s interview with Postcards Magazine, in its entirety, click here. It is definitely worth the read!
Congratulations, Nehemiah! We have a feeling that this is just the beginning of seeing your name in the news.