While some of his peers are entering high school for the first time, a 14-year-old boy from Washington D.C. is instead starting his freshman year at George Washington University.
Curtis Lawrence III has just embarked on his first semester of college at the ripe age of fourteen! While still technically being a junior in high school with only a few credits left to graduate, Lawrence was eligible to enroll in a special program between his high school and George Washington University.
“My topic is Africa and the African diaspora,” Lawrence told WTOP while holding a yellow highlighter as he began his homework.
The teen is enjoying his time in college, despite being much smaller than his classmates.
“Like when I’m in a class, I think of myself as a student — I’m either a high school student or a college student. And then I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Oh, I look this young,’ and I keep forgetting that,” he said.
Despite not being able to declare a major yet, Curtis knows his future major will be biology and computer science due to his aspirations of becoming a paleontologist.
“He’s loved dinosaurs and paleontology literally since he was one. And some people think, ‘Oh, your kid is going to grow out of that.’ But you foster that love of whatever it is,” said his mother Malene Lawrence.
“So we’d keep dinosaur books. Like, we kept tons of nonfiction books in the car and he would be pronouncing the names of dinosaurs and I was like, ‘How does this kid know this?’”
With both of his parents working as educators, Curtis was destined for greatness. He and his brother were raised to value education and perform as good students for other teachers. Now with the 14-year-old being a high school junior and college student, his college advisor had to steer him away from taking too many classes his first semester.
“I’m taking Calculus I, Astronomy, University writing, and African History,” Curtis told WTOP.
While this is Curtis first time in GW University, it is not his first time taking college classes. He completed that when he was in eighth grade after he took the SATs when he was just 10 years old! He also spent time in China where he studied abroad while living with a Chinese family and learning Mandarin.
“He was very methodical about planning what classes he would take. Even taking Mandarin. The average kid would say I’ll take Spanish or French. But he was very specific in wanting to take Mandarin because in speaking with paleontology mentors, they said the one language you should take is Mandarin. So he’s wanted to take it since he was in the second grade,” Lawrence said of her son.
Curtis continues to take Mandarin for fun at his high school, the School without Walls, WTOP reports. It is one of the few classes he has all but completed as requirements to graduate from high school, aside from physical education classes.
Meanwhile, Curtis reveals that his presence at GWU is putting some of his classmates to shame.
“In University writing class, it took a while for everyone to introduce themselves. And so I recently introduced myself. But up until that point, everyone was really confused about how I was there. And so after that, they were like, ‘Oh that’s really cool.’ And someone else said, ‘You’re putting us to shame.’”