Nearly half a dozen students in Florida are defying the odds, finishing their first year of college while in middle school.
Keniah Washington, Keyanna Grant, both 13, Tyreek Nash, Kaitlyn Archie-McDonald and Miracle Butler, who are 14, will be the first group of students completing college dual-enrollment classes at Icon Preparatory School in Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida.
The private school, with multiple locations, has 800 students, and 99 percent are Black and Hispanic. Five of the school’s six founders are Florida A&M University alumni who modeled the school after their historically Black college and university experience.
Icon Preparatory School has the same school colors and mascot as the Tallahassee, Florida, HBCU as well.
The founders of Icon Preparatory started the school to close the achievement gap among students who live in underserved communities. School leaders have a total of over 70 years of experience in education.
Part of the school’s mission officials said is to “empower students to achieve their maximum potential preparing them for life in college and beyond.” They have accomplished that and more with the five middle schoolers who are preparing for their second year at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida.
Keniah and Keyanna started taking college courses at 12 years old. The group of students is slated to get associate’s degrees within the next year. They can then transfer to a four-year college to complete their bachelor’s degree, most likely graduating at 16 and 17 years old.
The group of Icon Preparatory students is not alone. The number of school-aged children taking dual enrollment classes has increased over the last 15 years, according to the Community College Research Center. In 2013, Chicago teen Thessalonika Arzu-Embry made headlines for earning a bachelor’s degree at 14. She also went on to start a doctorate program before turning 18 years old.