LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — On Dec. 14, UNLV will have its youngest graduate in the history of the school.
When Jack Rico is not deep in his history books studying for finals, you can find him on UNLV’s campus writing a 25-page research paper. His peers just look at him as another student, but when they find out about his age, they are surprised.
“Every now and then I’ll get like a shocking reaction from someone, but most of my classmates are really accepting of me, they don’t treat me as a kid, they treat me as an equal,” Rico said.
Rico is not your average 15-year-old. After Rico failed 3rd grade when a new learning system was introduced, he went home and told his mom, Ru Andrade, that there had to be another way.
It was at that point they decided Rico would be homeschooled and after three years Andrade realized how intelligent her son is.
“At 11 he was smarter than me and I knew that I had given him everything I had and that he probably needed better teachers,” said Andrade.
They found a program at Fullerton College in California. Rico took an entrance exam, passed with flying colors, and was enrolled the next day. 2 years later, he graduates during the pandemic with 4 associates degrees in history, social sciences, arts and human expression, and social behavior.
He maintained a 4.0 GPA the whole time, which got him a full-ride scholarship to UNLV where he will get his bachelor’s degree in history.
“It was kind of unbelievable at that point when my mom told me, I was like you’re joking, this is a funny joke, but no this was actually happening and when we first came here, I fell in love with the campus,” said Rico.
On Dec. 14 this 15-year-old young man will be graduating with his fifth college degree, but he says his journey of learning is far from over.
“I don’t really know I want to get my masters, but I don’t know what I want to get it in, I don’t plan on getting it in history, so I want to audit some courses, discover some of my other interests and see what I want to do with my masters,” Rico said.
Jack Rico is making history of his own, becoming the youngest student to walk UNLV’s stage in the school's 64-year history.