Florida Teen Graduates College Before Receiving Her High School Diploma

By Tina Chen

May 8, 2014 4:18pm

Grace Bush, 16, took part in her college graduation ceremony earlier this month and tomorrow will be celebrating another educational milestone — high school graduation.

Grace attends Florida Atlantic University High School, where students have the opportunity to pursue a full-time college degree while completing high school credits.

Grace is one of the youngest students to graduate from FAU in more than a century, according to school officials.

“It makes you realize regardless of age if you’ve got the abilities you should be allowed to accomplish your full potential,” FAU President John Kelly told ABC’s West Palm Beach affiliate WPBF,

What seems unusual to most parents and students who graduate high school and then move onto college, seems to be the norm for the Bush family.

“The oldest children set the pace and everybody is following my oldest child. Everybody is eager to do what they have done,” Grace’s mother, Gisla Bush, 49, told ABC News.

Gisla Bush, a mother of nine who was home-schooled until the age of 13, calls herself a “full-time home-school teacher.” What started out as a suggestion from her husband turned into a full operation in her living room, she said.

Grace said the topsy turvy graduation sequence actually “feels normal to me.”

“This process was kind of expected. I’m just following in her footsteps,” she said.

Her mother explained that “Grace had an advantage because she was with her older sisters,” so “she learned at a higher level.”

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Grace, middle, photographed with her sisters on graduation day, Gabrielle left, Gisla right.

Grace’s oldest sister, Gisla, 19, named after their mother, also graduated from the dual program at FAU and is working on a master’s degree in urban planning. Sister Gabrielle, 17, is graduating this summer.

With her high school graduation coming up tomorrow, “I’m very relieved that I have it all done behind me and I’m looking forward to my future and what I can do now,” Grace said.

Grace told her mom when she was 11 “that she wanted to be a ‘peacemaker,’” Gisla said, noting that her daughter participated in the teen court system for five years. Acting as a juror, Grace made recommendations for at-risk youth to help keep them out of the criminal justice system.

Grace will be continuing her education at FAU, working towards a master’s degree in public administration while simultaneously studying for her LSAT, with an eye toward a legal career, she said.

“I’m interested in the juvenile area,” Grace said. “I want to basically keep as many kids out of the system as possible.”

The Bush girls said they’re comfortable with their accelerated path into adulthood.

“Yes, I will miss out on most things that a lot of kids are going through. There are things that I am going to miss out on and I am missing out on, but you kind of just need to suck it up and take is as it comes,” Grace said.

“I’m thankful that my parents came up with this process,” she added. “I’ve been able to excel in other ways that other kids have not been able to.”

Grace graduated with a 3.86 overall college GPA, receiving a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and her ultimate ambition is to become a Supreme Court justice.

Her mother said she has no doubt Grace will achieve her goal. “I do not expect anything less from her,” she said.

 

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