Jack Rico earned his associate's degree from Fullerton College, making him the youngest person to ever graduate from the school

By Rachel DeSantis
May 26, 2020 02:07 PM
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He may not have a driver’s license yet, but Jack Rico does have something most other 13-year-olds don’t: a quartet of college degrees under his belt.

The California teenager earned his associate’s degree this week from Fullerton College, bringing his total number of degrees to four, his mom Ru Andrade tells PEOPLE.

"It has been pure joy having Jack as a son and I couldn't be any prouder of him," she says.

The accomplishment makes him the youngest graduate ever from the community college.

“The college was established in 1913, so this is quite a legacy he can claim!” a spokeswoman for the school tells PEOPLE.

Jack started college courses when he was just 11 years old, and has spent the last two years earning his different degrees.

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Andrade says she knew her son was "not your average kid" as early as 3 years old, when he 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," she says, adding that the request was just a joke. "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?'"

Andrade says her son struggled in public school, and so she 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 says.

With that in mind, she entered him into Fullerton College's Bridge Program, which allows K-12 students who pass placement exams to attend.

"He started out just taking one class and he absolutely loved it," she says. "He just kept requesting taking more and more classes."

Though coronavirus restrictions have prevented Jack from attending a traditional graduation ceremony this year, he and his family have planned a special drive-by event in La Mirada to celebrate his achievements, according to KABC.

And Jack doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

The teen will attend the University of Nevada in the fall on a full scholarship, his mom says. Because the family is unable to move out of state, he'll take classes Monday through Wednesday, and will commute.

"Jack is not a genius, he just works really hard," Andrade says. "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."

Jack reportedly wants to study history, though he said he’s not settled on a career path just yet.

“I’m 13, so I don’t want to rush everything,” he told KABC. “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.”