The teen earned all four associate's degrees within a span of just two years after starting college courses when he was 11-years-old.
Jack Rico has made history at California's Fullerton College by becoming the institution's youngest-ever graduate. The 13-year-old has already created quite a legacy for himself, with a quartet of college degrees under his belt—all before he's old enough to even get a driver's license. And if that isn't impressive enough for someone his age, young Rico earned all four associate's degrees within a span of just two years after starting college courses when he was 11 years of age. "It has been pure joy having Jack as a son and I couldn't be any prouder of him," the teen's mother, Ru Andrade, told PEOPLE.
The proud mom gushed that she's known her son was "not your average kid" from when he was as young as 3-years-old. At an age when most kids would show interest for little else than cartoons, Rico asked to visit the White House for his 4th birthday. "I told him that was a big trip for a little guy, and that I would take him if he could learn all the presidents," Andrade revealed, explaining that she'd merely been joking. "A week later he said, 'Mom, I have a confession to make. I already knew all the presidents, but I learned all the vice presidents if that will still count?'"
However, Rico struggled in public school, said Andrade. She realized he'd be better off learning from home and began homeschooling him in third grade, which allowed her to better focus on his areas of weakness. "When he was 11, I knew he needed more of a challenge and a better teacher than me," she revealed. That's when Andrade entered him into Fullerton College's Bridge Program, which permits K-12 students who pass placement exams to attend.
"He started out just taking one class and he absolutely loved it," she explained. "He just kept requesting taking more and more classes." A spokeswoman for the community college praised Rico's achievement saying: "The college was established in 1913, so this is quite a legacy he can claim!" Although the ongoing coronavirus crisis robbed Rico of the chance to attend a traditional graduation ceremony this year, the family is currently planning a special drive-by event in La Mirada to celebrate his achievements.
"Jack is not a genius, he just works really hard. We are so happy for Jack and all his academic accomplishments, however, he is an even more awesome human being. He has a sister with autism that he has just been an amazing brother to," said Andrade. She congratulated her son in a special post on Instagram this week, writing: Jack, I know today would have been your graduation ceremony and I am so sorry that you did not get to experience that. But I want you to know that I am so proud of everything you are and everything you have accomplished. Learning with you has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. I love you more. Congratulations Jack.
Even with four associate's degrees to his name, Rico has a lot more plans for his future. He will attend the University of Nevada in the fall on a full scholarship, his mom revealed, and since the family is unable to move out of state, the teen will take classes Monday through Wednesday. Speaking to KABC, Rico—who reportedly wants to study history—said that he hasn't settled on a career path just yet. "I'm 13, so I don't want to rush everything," he said. "I'm still trying to figure it out, but I just want to focus on learning right now. That's what I love to do."