MIAMI Last week, just days before her high school graduation, 16-year-old Grace Bush collected a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from a south Florida university, fulfilling her proud parents' cost-saving plan on tuition.
Bush will graduate from high school this Friday, but is already planning on heading back to Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton for a master's degree in public administration before seeking a law degree.
Home-schooled until 13 with her eight siblings, Grace began reading around the age of 2, her mother Gisla Bush said.
"I sat her in my lap and read to her every day for a few minutes so I could move on to do what I needed to do with my other kids," Bush said. "Then one day I saw her reading by herself and from that point on she did everything her other sisters did."
Grace Bush began taking college classes at 13 and enrolled in summer sessions to finish the college degree in three years. She is the third of her siblings to combine high school and college, but the youngest to complete both.
The family's home schooling and early graduation came as much out of financial need as it did from the daughters' stunning abilities. They discovered they could take college credits at FAU while studying at the high school on campus, saving both time and money.
Gisla Bush, 49, is a full-time mother - her youngest child is only 11 months old - and her husband works as a human resources analyst for the city of Pompano Beach. Bush is the daughter of a roofer with a fifth grade education and is herself one of 10 siblings, all of whom graduated from college.
"Everything was paid for, tuition, books, transportation. That was our benefit," she said.
Grace Bush rises at 5:30 a.m., arriving at school from the family home in Hollywood, Florida, before the first bell rings at 8 a.m. She spends the next 14 hours combining high school and college classes and playing the flute in two orchestras.
She's home by 11 p.m. to study for three hours before drifting to sleep in the middle of the night.
"Ultimately I would like to become a Supreme Court justice ... but between law school and that I'm not sure what I'll do," she said.
Gisla Bush, who studied architecture and law, credited Grace's grandfather, William Chennault, a World War Two veteran and grandson of slaves, for the family work ethic.
(Editing by David Adams; Editing by Dan Grebler)