Salenah Cartier, 17, just became the University of Houston’s youngest graduate for Fall 2020, according to the University of Houston. Raised by a single mother, she now has not one, but two degrees under her belt.
Because of Them We Can reports Cartier began homeschooling full-time after the sixth grade while in between public education during elementary and middle school, often being bullied by peers for being the top of her class and having high-level academic successes.
Not your average preteen at the time, Cartier wanted to be anything but mediocre and enrolled in a self-paced homeschooling program that allowed her to sail through her studies with ease.
At age 14, she graduated from high school and set her sights on college.
“I needed a new challenge, and attending college presented the perfect academic and social growth opportunity for me,” said Salenah.
A strong pillar in her life, Salenah’s mother often found it hard to make ends meet having to feed four children on her own. Although they struggled financially, Salenah did not allow this to impact her academic progress.
During her tenure at Lone Star College-Kingwood, Salenah made a way to offload some of her fees through the retail of used textbooks on eBay — which she had purchased for less online — and in thrift stores.
Advice from her mother encouraged the teen to always feed her brain regardless of how tough life got.
“My mom would always say you have to figure out what you want to do in life and how you want to make an impact on the world,” Cartier said.
Taking that mantra and a few life lessons on the value of self-worth with her along the way, Salenah graduated from Lone Star College-Kingwood with an associate of science degree before transferring to the University of Houston.
Now as the youngest graduate in her class, Cartier has not only obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, but she will also receive a certificate in Corporate Entrepreneurship from C.T. Bauer College of Business.
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“I hope that my achievements are able to inspire [people] of all ages. It is never too early or late to pursue a goal,” said Cartier. “There will never be a perfect time to start a journey, but if you want to succeed, you just have to start. As long as you maintain an open mindset, you will learn on every step of the journey.”
Her dream is to use her education to help the less fortunate and become a policymaker, researcher, and educator to help disadvantaged children in society know the sky is the limit.