Boy, 15, on track to become youngest-known college graduate in Indiana

GARY, Ind. (WGN) — While most 15-year-olds are completing their freshman year of high school, one Northwest Indiana teen is defying the odds by not only graduating from high school but becoming the first in his family to graduate college.

Khaya Njumbe of Gary, Indiana, is like many his age: he enjoys video games, basketball, and poetry. He is part of the Jesse White Tumbling Team and a second-degree black belt in taekwondo.

Unlike others his age, Njumbe has three associate degrees in biology, liberal arts, and general studies. Soon, he will earn a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Indiana University Northwest. And that’s in addition to the high school diploma he’ll receive from 21st Century Charter School.

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Indiana University Northwest officials say to the best of their knowledge, he will be the youngest college graduate in the state.

“I know it’s a pretty big accomplishment,” Njumbe told Nexstar’s WGN. “I know, I did some research. There’s really not that many kids who’ve accomplished this, and I’m just very grateful for all the support.”

The teen’s educational prowess revealed itself early. He was reading flashcards at 13 months and taught himself how to play the piano and speak Chinese, an interest he developed from a fascination with Bruce Lee movies.

“When I was about 7, that’s when my mom officially sent me to a Chinese school, but before then I was already trying to teach myself,” Njumbe recalled.

He was just 4 years old when his parents enrolled him in a reading camp at Indiana University Northwest. Since then, he’s earned associate degrees from Ivy Tech and has dreamed about graduating from IU Northwest and attending its school of medicine.

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Professor Jack Bloom said that in his 45 years teaching at IU Northwest, he hasn’t come across a student like Njumbe.

“You can count on him. He is a serious student. He does the reading. He produces great work,” Bloom said.

Njumbe began taking college courses four years ago and plans to pursue biomedical engineering, but will first pursue a master’s degree. Due to child labor laws, he can’t even enroll in the IU School of Medicine until he turns 18.

“The sky is the limit for him,” said 21st Century School social worker Theresa Canady. “I see him doing exactly what he wants to do and more.”

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