Let’s see. What was I doing when I was 15? Struggling with acne and barely passing Mr. Peter’s algebra tests? That sounds about right. What I wasn’t doing was being anything close to as intelligent as Stephen Stafford, a young man after my heart.
Most kids his age are sophomores in high school. Morehouse’s youngest student ever is now a sophomore in college. But — wait for it — he also declared a triple major (yes, one, two, three majors) in — wait for it again — math, computer science, and pre-med. Wow. I’m gonna need him to use all of those smarts to figure out how to clone himself.
Morehouse is the same institution that educated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee. But score one for homeschooling: Stephen’s mother prepped him by teaching him and his older sister, who’s getting ready to graduate with her bachelor’s degree as a teenager herself. Let me sit at your feet, oh masterful mama educator.
In the meantime, I’ve already informed my daughter that we will be seeking this young man out when they get a little bit older. You know, just to see what he’s up to. Can’t hurt to have a brilliant son-in-law in the family. I’m not rushing it. I’m just sayin’.
On the serious side, his child prodigy-ness is even more amazing because he’s defying the dangers and statistics in Detroit, a city where two black men between the ages of 15 and 24 die every week. Every single week. Even though they only account for 7 percent of Detroit’s population, black men constitute 25 percent of the homicides. Other major cities around the country are putting up similarly dismal numbers.
An FBI report released a few years ago revealed that a black male was about six times more likely than a white male to be a victim of homicide. And last month, the Washington Post ran a story about how black moms are hyperoverprotective when it comes to raising their sons, to the point of sending them to live with relatives so they can go to better schools, refusing to let them join in certain clothing trends (a la actually wearing their jeans below the bottom of their butt cheeks), and being afraid to let them go anywhere because they’re too scared they’ll be killed, either by gunplay in their neighborhoods or random acts of police violence on the streets.
Raising a black boy was never easy, but these days it requires a full-out strategy.
So that makes Stephen Stafford even more of a big deal than he obviously already is. Big shout-out to his parents, but their victory is a victory for the whole lot of us. And hey, it doesn’t hurt that being done with school by the time most people are just going in will give him some swagger with the ladies a little later on down the line.
Still, I have to wonder if he’s missing out on the opportunity to create the finer memories of the college experience. Now when he’s done with class, he’s shuttled back home to the watchful care of his parents — and understandably so. At 15, little dude has no business roaming around anybody’s campus, I don’t care if it is a prestigious all-male school. He’s known as the nerdy little superkid and the history-making superstar.
But what can replace his heyday frat party stories? Sneaking into girls’ dorms and sneaking out of girls’ dorms? Smuggling snacks from the cafeteria back to his room in plastic containers? Cramming for tests ‘til the wee hours of the morning in his favorite part of the library? I cherish my university memories. Unless he goes in for a third or fourth bachelor’s (and I suspect he’s too smart to be bothered with another one of those), undergrad will be a fleeting extension of his high school years. But that’s small potatoes compared to the bigger sacrifices that he and his family could’ve made.
Is a super smart kid ever too young to go to college? If your child was a candidate to begin their college courses at 13, would you let them?
Image via Morehouse College