Elijah Precciely, 15, isn’t your average teenager. Typically, teens his age would be in the ninth grade. When he was 8 years old Elijah was already taking college classes in physical science, college algebra, African-American history and biology. His parents realized he was gifted at just 18 months when he was assessed in daycare.
“He actually started taking classes at Southern University at 8 years old,” Steve Precciely said of his son.
Currently, Elijah is a junior at Southern University A&M, an HBCU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Elijah’s dad, Steve Precciely, says he is glad his son is following in his family’s footsteps as the third generation to attend the HBCU.
“[We wanted] to let the people know there is gold in these HBCUs, and you can get an equal or even better education there,” Steve Precciely said.
Elijah says he’s a dual major, earning bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering and in math and physics. He says he always had a love for physics but he wanted to boost his engineering skills while in college.
“I would have knowledge in electrical circuitry and things of that nature and also high energy physics and also have the engineering skills required to build said machines or improve them with the various degrees so they kind of feed into each other, so I’m taking physics to become a better engineer,” Elijah Precciely said of his academic degree track.
Steve Precciely is a pastor, business owner and owns a home school program, Ji’l Academy of Beyond Excellence, which opened in 2008, alongside his wife in Baton Rouge. Elijah attended the family’s school before turning to college.
Clovis Williams, 38, was Elijah’s eighth grade math teacher and even though Elijah was 9 years old at the time, Williams says he took his studies more seriously than his older classmates.
Williams recalled a memorable moment when Elijah called him out for getting a math problem wrong. “I made a mistake on a problem and he caught the mistake, so for me that was big, because, first, you’re paying attention, and now not only are you paying attention but you’re able to catch the teacher’s mistake,” Williams said.
Steve says Elijah was too young to take the ACT and SAT before enrolling as a full-time student but scored the second highest equivalency placement test score at Southern University. He enrolled at the HBCU in 2019 as a fulltime student at just 11 years old. Steve admits that raising a genius has come with some challenges along the way.
“Our whole scheduling as far as work, we had to rearrange our schedule so we could be available for him at all times,” Steve Precciely said.
Elijah’s parents made sacrifices to make sure he’s always safe around classmates who were much older than him. Steve says he had to stand firm when confronted by Elijah’s professors on the college campus.
“Myself or my wife being on the campus in the class with him at 11 years old or even younger because he first started taking classes at 8. They’d say, during the test time, it’s only him and I would say, no, I’m going to be right here during the test because he is a minor,” Steve Precciely said.
With about a year left until he earns his undergraduate degrees, Elijah says he hasn’t decided where he will go for grad school, but he knows what he wants to do once he is finished with school. He says he wants to use his talents to create a program to make it easier for people to learn complicated subjects like physics.
“If I know everything people are having trouble with, then I could help them through it. So, basically, physics is something really hard for people generally so if I learned it or first-hand experienced it, I can actually teach it better or build a program or work with people on the ground level to create software to help children learn better,” Elijah Precciely said.
Steve Precciely’s advice to other parents wishing to capitalize on their children’s gifts is to keep them focused.
“We encourage parents to direct the child, because many times they don’t know what direction they want to go in. You point them in a direction. The Bible says children are like arrows and in the hand of a mighty man,” said Steve Precciely.
Elijah has published a book, “Prodigy”, and his father proudly highlighted his son’s other accolades, which include being a licensed minister and his ability to speak multiple languages.
Elijah demurs by saying, “I work on one skill at a time, I know a lot of things, but I like to keep myself focused.”