Mathews grad earns bachelor's degree at 18 - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Mathews grad earns bachelor's degree at 18

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WARREN, Ohio -

DJ Richards has graduated three times in the last week. Part of the Mathews High School Class of 2017, before he even walked in that ceremony this week he had already earned a pair of college degrees.

"I've always liked to go over and above, just push the limits, see what you can do with everything. Anytime somebody says you can't, I like to say 'Watch me'," said Richards.

This is a kid who took the ACT at 13 and opened his own business at 16 years old. He started out by taking a couple classes at Kent State's Trumbull campus as a freshman through the College Credit Plus program and took off from there.

"Starting my sophomore year, I only took one class at the high school and after that I actually haven't taken any," said Richards. "It's been nice, I've been able to substitute classes at Kent State for Mathews classes, otherwise I don't know that this all would have been possible."

Last Saturday, he picked up his associate's degree in Applied Business in Computer Technology with a concentration in networking from Kent Trumbull, along with his bachelor's of Technical and Applied Studies in Computer Technology with a concentration in networking from the main campus. Not too shabby, for an 18 year old.

"When DJ puts his mind to something, there's no stopping him," said DJ's mother Lynell Richards.

"I've been involved in education for over 40 years, and this is the first time I've been around a student who's been able to graduate from both high school and college in the same year," said Mathews local schools superintendent Lew Lowery.

It didn't come without a few sacrifices. DJ did not get the chance to play high school sports, for example. But his focused was always on the end-game, even if it made for some interesting conversations at college.

"We're going around the room doing the introductions there. Some people have been in the military for a number of years, they've been working with the Navy... They've been in the workforce and everything, telling about their experience," said Richards. "We get to me. I say 'Hi, I'm DJ. I'm 13 and my mom drove me here.'"

For a guy who's obviously been thinking about the future for a while, you know he's already focused on what's next.

"The plan here is to head out in August to Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology. Looking at pursuing my master's degree there," said Richards.

Which means, it won't be long before he walks in another graduation. He's 18 years old with two college degrees, and one of the brightest futures in the Valley.

Richards says, the program is not for everybody, but he is living proof of what a student can accomplish.

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