Sixteen-year old stuns nation by obtaining her college degree and high school diploma in the same week
Her father’s wish is for someone to arrange a tour of the US Supreme Court for his daughter
– is anyone listening out there?
By K. Chandler
In an age when so many young people are falling by the wayside, succumbing to drugs, crime and unwanted pregnancies, it is refreshing to come across a teen who has not only excelled academically, but is also on a fast track to a future leadership role in this country. And the fact that she is young, gifted and Black is all the more ‘icing on the cake.’
Over the course of three years, Grace Bush, 16, of Hollywood, Fla., has managed to accomplish a remarkable feat virtually unheard of: she graduated both high school and college in the same week!
While participating in Florida Atlantic University’s dual enrollment program, which enables students to pursue college credits while working toward their high school diploma, Grace maintained a 3.8 GPA. In the first week of May she received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from FAU. A week later she proudly accepted her high school diploma from Henderson High School an affiliate of FAU.
Her future goals include pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (she has already been promised a full scholarship to FAU) after which she plans to attend law school with the ultimate goal of one day be-coming a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Grace Bush attributes her phenomenal success to the way she and her nine siblings have been raised by their parents, particularly the older children.
“Growing up we weren’t al-lowed to watch TV without having completed our homework first. As punishment, if we didn’t finish our homework, we wouldn’t be allowed to watch TV for a month. My parents were strict; my mother more so than my father. She didn’t encourage unhealthy TV watching habits like violent shows or programs that weren’t appropriate for our age.”
Raised in a strong Christian household, Grace and her two older siblings have adhered to a long-standing tradition of get-ting up at 5:30 a.m. to study the Bible each morning with their father, as well as on Saturday evenings. Sundays and Thursdays the family attends church services together.
“My father felt that since we were now being exposed to a secular environment as opposed to being home schooled, there was a greater need for us to be spiritually grounded” said Grace, adding that part of that spiritual grounding entailed developing patience as a virtue – which didn’t come easy.
“Patience helped me get through this entire process without having a nervous breakdown,” Bush candidly re-vealed with a chuckle. “That is especially true when you can’t see the end of the tunnel, or journey, being far closer to the beginning at that point.”
Part of the ‘journey’ entailed being at school by 8 a.m. after which the next 14 hours were devoted to high school studies and college curriculums, taking her well into the night before she’d collapse exhausted in her bed only to repeat it all over the next day.
Home-schooled by their mother, Gisla, 49, a former bankruptcy attorney, Grace demonstrated early on a thirst for knowledge, reading by the age of two and following closely on the heels of her two older sisters, Gisla Bush, 19 and Gabrielle Bush 17 who were also home-schooled and plan to commence working on their master’s degrees later this fall. Gisla Bush, who gave up a lucrative law career to raise her children, attributes her considerable parenting skills to her own parents. Her father, Charles Chennault, an army veteran who was both a family man and a businessman, may not have gone past the 5th grade, but he instilled in his 10 children a strong work ethic that carries on to this day. “Whatever job he did, he did it very well. In 50 years on the job, he never once was late for work. He instilled a drive for excellence inside of us”.
“My mother worked the evening shift as a custodian so she could be at home when her children arrived home from school. While she was gone, my father took on the role of father and mother until she got home at 4 o’clock in the morning. He took total responsibility for his family.
“In all the time I was growing up, I never heard my father raise his voice; the man had the patience of Job. But when he gave you a job to do – making sure you clearly understood what was required of you – he expected you to do that job to the best of your ability. If you followed what he said, there was no problem. If not, there were repercussions. That was the time when you had solid families. They (parents) did what they had to do to make sure their children had more than they had.”
Concurring wholeheartedly with his wife, Bobby Bush, 51, a human resources analyst employed by the City of Pompano Beach reiterated the importance of teamwork in successfully raising children.
“Everything my wife and I have done has been done on one accord. Having a large family today is not something that the public is always receptive to, especially in today’s culture, but the Bible says there are blessings, and we’ve received those blessings.” Those blessing, it might be noted, very well may have come in the form of a free college education since the Bush’s didn’t pay a dime for Grace’s college degree, for which they are both eternally grateful.
Grace Bush readily acknowledges her parents role in getting her to the point she is at today, viewing them as her greatest mentors. In turn, she advises young people her age to listen to their parents as they usually have the best advice to offer their children based on their understanding of that child and what’s best for them.”
She also advised listening to teachers. “Study hard and stay away from unfit company and the illegal activities unfit company brings. In my experience, the best thing I could do was to listen to my teachers and follow their instructions. If you have a good student-teacher relationship the chances of you getting good grades is much higher.”
Grace’s mother Gisla also noted that their daughter, like her sisters, Gisla and Gabriella, had been groomed for this particular moment in time. “I expected this from Grace. I know it was going to happen.”
What Gisla Bush wasn’t prepared for, however, was the on-slaught of media attention stemming from Grace’s amazing feat. “She’s impacted the nation. On top of the major media covering this story, thousands of tweets and Facebook comments have been pouring in.
What has amazed Gisla Bush the most perhaps, has been the public dialogue her daughter’s accomplishments have spurred. “This has prompted a national discussion on parenting, education and goal-setting,” she stated, adding that it has also set in motion a national debate on whether this accelerated program is “too fast; too quick, and too much for a teenager her age. Has it caused her to “miss out on a ‘normal’ child-hood? And what caused her to achieve the way she did?”
For his part, Bobby Bush is just happy with the way events turned out. And he has no doubt in his mind that Grace has what it takes to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice one day. He just wishes someone could arrange for his daughter to tour the U.S. Supreme Court Justice building in recognition of her achievements, which would be a dream come true for her. Or, perhaps, even sit in on an actual Supreme Court session. Now that would really be something to remember. Is anyone listening out there?