Sixteen-year-old Noel Jett earned her college degree at Texas A&M University on Saturday.
Now, she said, it’s time to work on being a typical teenager.
Her summer plans: “I’m going to be sleeping for the most part,” she said. “I should also focus on learning how to drive.”
Jett, a Fort Worth native, completed her undergraduate studies this month after taking 21 spring semester hours. She started at Texas A&M at 14 after taking classes at Tarrant County College. Next fall, she heads to the University of North Texas in Denton to work on Ph.D. studies in gifted and talented educational psychology.
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Jett is among thousands of Texas college students graduating this month. Commencement ceremonies were this weekend at A&M, the University of Texas at Arlington, University of North Texas and Texas Wesleyan University.
Jett received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the College of Liberal Arts’ commencement ceremony at Reed Arena in College Station on Saturday.
She was among more than 8,700 Aggies to receive a college degree in ceremonies across the Texas A&M University System. Though Jett’s age prompts questions, she said she has blended in at Texas A&M.
“In community college, I was 13 and 14 and I still had braces,” she said.
By the time she was at Texas A&M, the braces were off, and her age wasn’t much of an issue.
“People cared less and were a little bit more respectful,” she said.
Jett is not the only North Texas teen earning a college degree this spring. Marcie Tiraphatna, 15, a student at UT Arlington, graduated with a math degree.
‘A profoundly gifted’ child
Jett’s parents, Nancy and Alan Shastid, discovered her gift when Noel started public, half-day kindergarten in the Keller school district. While her little classmates were learning letters, she was reading chapter books.
“I didn’t understand how bright she was until I had a Ph.D. tell me she is really bright,” said Nancy Shastid, Noel’s mother.
Shastid home-schooled Noel, worried she would become bored if she wasn’t academically and intellectually challenged.
“We did six years of curriculum in one year,” Shastid said. “We started fifth-grade math in kindergarten. She was able to go from there.”
Noel started algebra at 8.
“I had to hire a math tutor because she was better than me at math,” Shastid said.
Testing at age 8 showed Noel is “profoundly” gifted and in the 99.9th percentile on IQ tests .
She was home-schooled until she started high school at 12. Noel briefly attended the Fort Worth school district’s Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences and ended up taking classes at Tarrant County College’s Trinity River Campus in downtown Fort Worth.
At 14, with a year of college credit, she transferred to Texas A&M.
Jett has been studying with few breaks since arriving at College Station two years ago, with classes in fall, spring and summer semesters. So she’s ready for time off this summer.
The teenager has been so busy learning advanced math, psychology and anthropology that she didn’t have time to learn how to ride a bicycle.
Jett joked that she tells people: “I was completely robbed of my childhood because I don’t know how to ride a bike.”
Jett said her greatest strength is playing the piano and describes herself as a poetry nerd. She has also taken part in campus groups and activities, including Young Americans for Liberty.
Asked if she has plans to date, Jett answered, “Boys have cooties.”
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675