When fall classes began at George Washington University this semester, the campus welcomed one of its youngest students ever in Washington, D.C., resident Curtis Lawrence.
The 14-year-old is “the youngest student in our traditional undergraduate on-campus program,” according to GWU. Curtis joined the university as a freshman college student after completing his freshman and sophomore years at School Without Walls, a magnet high school on GWU’s campus. As a high school sophomore, Curtis joined The GW Early College Program, which allowed him to enroll as a full-time GW student and earn tuition-free college credits in his last two years of high school. It was within that program that the teen enrolled in the Associate of Arts Cohort. There, 15 sophomores from School Without Walls take on a full-time course load at GW and earn an associate of arts degree and a high school diplomas simultaneously, The GW Hatchet reported.
“I feel like I was prepared for the academics because Walls is a very rigorous high school, it’s the top high school in D.C., so a lot of the work that we did reflected the work that I’ll be doing here in college,” he told the newspaper.
While it may alarm his classmates on the Washington, D.C., campus when he walks into class, it’s no surprise to Curtis that he’s in college before he’s old enough to drive or vote. He told the university’s newspaper his mother, Malene Lawrence, began teaching him and his younger brother how to read by his second birthday. She also taught them math and science before enrolling her two sons into a gifted preschool.
But it didn’t stop there.
Curtis said from first through third grade, he attended a predominantly Black gifted school for students in Harlem, New York. After that, the teen explained the family moved to Texas and he skipped the fourth grade to enroll in fifth grade at the IDEA Carver Academy. After switching schools through elementary and middle school, Curtis was home-schooled before enrolling at the University of Texas at San Antonio Academy in eighth grade and completed a course in African American studies. Then, he moved to D.C. and the rest is history.
“I never really thought I was advanced until I got here to D.C.,” he admitted to the paper. “My mom just always pushed education, pushed advanced academics and especially being at the elementary school in Harlem, I was surrounded by other people who were advanced, so it just felt like the norm for me.”
Still, while speaking to WJLA, Curtis said people will still question his age.
“In my university writing class, my professor asked me if I was a visitor or if I was someone’s younger brother,” Curtis said. “Most of the people that I sit at tables with. They ask me how old am I and how am I here — so I tell them everything.”
The teen says he wants to study computer science and paleontology at the historically Black university Florida A&M University to earn his bachelor’s degree. His 13-year-old brother Corey hopes to follow the path his older brother set.
“He’s really ahead of me and I want to follow in his footsteps,” said Corey, who hopes to attend GWU like his brother before pursuing astrophysics at Hampton University, another HBCU.