Roderick and Blanca Currie are proud parents of 12-year-old Fiona who graduated college with a 4.0 GPA and credit their daughter’s achievement to hard work, a ban on social media, and homeschooling.
“I think Fiona is a shining example of what can be accomplished with enough determination and perseverance,” Roderick told The Epoch Times.
The pre-teen graduated from Los Angeles City College’s three-year associate degree program in Studio Arts at the Greek Theatre in LA on June 6.
“She learned to read and write very quickly, and she was especially talented when it came to music and art,” Roderick said. “She learned to play Mozart on the piano at the age of 4 without any lessons or any formal music instruction. She would watch piano tutorial videos on the iPad and be able to pick it up in no time. She also had an incredible ability, at a very young age, to look at a drawing or painting and replicate it on paper.”
Fiona’s parents enrolled her in public school at the age of five, but claimed the school could not “handle gifted students like her.”
She then attended a hybrid charter school program which allowed her to advance grade levels at her own pace. Following fourth and fifth grades at public school, the Rodericks decided that homeschool would be most advantageous for Fiona’s capabilities.
“We looked for resources online, and that is when we learned that the L.A. Community College District has a dual-enrolment program,” Roderick said, adding there was never the intention for his daughter to complete a degree at such a young age.
The Rodericks used the pandemic lockdown as an excuse for their daughter to take advantage of online schooling through the college, starting with a single college English class in 2020. During first day, on-screen introductions, Fiona was asked by the professor if one of her parents was meant to be taking the course with which she replied, “No, I’m the student!”
She eventually started taking nine to 12 units per semester in addition to her standard elementary homeschool studies, completing the 75 credits and Associate of Arts Degree.
Realizing she’s just a child, the Rodericks managed to find the proper balance between Fiona’s schooling and recreational activities. After six hours of academics from Monday through Friday, which includes standard curriculum, college class, and breaks, she also rides horses, goes hiking, builds Legos, and even plays some video games.
“We believe that a child should constantly be challenged just enough to keep them engaged and learning and moving forward, but not overly challenged so that they become discouraged and lose confidence,” Blanca said. “We are also not afraid to be firm when needed; we make use of parental controls on Fiona’s computer and cellphone to protect her from the dangers of the online world, but also to keep her from becoming bogged down with distractions, such as social media.”
Fiona’s parents monitor her screen time with time limits and they observe her activities to ensure her engagement is age appropriate. No one in their immediate family has social media account.
“It is my opinion that social media … exists to make us lazy and unproductive” Roderick said. “When most other 12-year-olds are wasting countless hours on TikTok, Fiona is focusing on her studies and more productive hobbies, like enjoying the outdoors, or reading.” Fiona’s lifestyle is very different from most peers her age who on average, spend up to nine hours looking at a phone screen.
At Los Angeles City College’s commencement ceremony, the college president recognized the 12-year-old for being the youngest graduate in the school’s 94-year history. Fiona plans to continue her studies at UCLA, USC, or Otis College of Art and Design.