Weber State University Magazine Spring 2013 : Page 22

WSU’s youngest student is studying for medical school ... at D 15 Kimberly Jensen, Contributing Writer riving through the Dee Events Center parking lot, Jessica Brooke is all jitters. In the passenger seat, her mom gently reminds her, “Keep your hands at 10 and 2.” At 15, Weber State University’s youngest student is more nervous about getting her driver’s license than passing her honors physics course. “I’m so scared to take the test for my learner’s permit, even though I’ve studied,” Jessica said. “I want to opportunities,” she said. “My mom and dad have always had very high expectations of me, and I’m very motivated.” At 5 feet 9 inches, Jessica looks older than she is and blends in on campus with her backpack, a full social calendar and a wide smile. “I’ve made the best friends here, and I love going to my study groups where everybody wants to learn,” she said. “I’ve become everyone’s little sister.” Jessica considers herself a typical teenager who fights with her siblings, has chores and gets moody, but her journey has been anything but conventional. Growing up in Gilbert, Ariz., Jessica wowed math tutors throughout elementary school, skipped the eighth grade and high school, and at age 12 enrolled at the local community college. “I would still hang out with friends my age,” she said. “I just got to skip the social drama and gossip of junior high.” Two years later Jessica graduated with two associate’s degrees and began her university search. “Most universities we spoke to didn’t know what to do with a 14-year-old,” said Rachel Brooke, Jessica’s mom. “I wanted a smaller university with a student body that aligned with LDS church values, offered an institute program and had a high placement rate for pre-med students.” They discovered all of that at WSU. “Jessica is the youngest student ever to enroll at Weber State,” said WSU Provost Michael Vaughan. “Because of our early college program, we had already addressed the issues that surround young teenage students, such as computer access and restrictive materials.” get my license on my birthday in August.” Getting her permit shouldn’t be a problem. Passing tests comes easily for Jessica, a WSU senior majoring in zoology and math. She plans to apply to medical school before most her age graduate from high school. “I’m still a teenager,” Jessica insisted. “Instead of taking classes in a high school, I’m just taking classes at a university. I’m not trying to grow up fast; I just love to learn.” Despite meeting all measures defining a child prodigy, Jessica doesn’t consider herself one. “I’ve just been given really great Physics professor Bradley Carroll instructs Jessica in his honors class. “She’s like any of the other smart, capable and interesting students in my classes,” he said. “If you had told me I had a 15-year-old in one of my classes, I wouldn’t have been able to pick her out. She fits right in.” Because of her age, Jessica lives at home and is not allowed to date or go to college parties. That’s just fine with her. 22 wsu magazine | spring 2013

WSU

Kimberly Jensen

Driving through the Dee Events Center parking lot, <b>Jessica Brooke</b> is all jitters. In the passenger seat, her mom gently reminds her, “Keep your hands at 10 and 2.” At 15, Weber State University’s youngest student is more nervous about getting her driver’s license than passing her honors physics course.<br /> <br /> “I’m so scared to take the test for my learner’s permit, even though I’ve studied,” Jessica said. “I want to get my license on my birthday in August.” <br /> <br /> Getting her permit shouldn’t be a problem. Passing tests comes easily for Jessica, a WSU senior majoring in zoology and math. She plans to apply to medical school before most her age graduate from high school.<br /> <br /> “I’m still a teenager,” Jessica insisted. “Instead of taking classes in a high school, I’m just taking classes at a university. I’m not trying to grow up fast; I just love to learn.” <br /> <br /> Despite meeting all measures defining a child prodigy, Jessica doesn’t consider herself one. “I’ve just been given really great opportunities,” she said. “My mom and dad have always had very high expectations of me, and I’m very motivated.” At 5 feet 9 inches, Jessica looks older than she is and blends in on campus with her backpack, a full social calendar and a wide smile.<br /> “I’ve made the best friends here, and I love going to my study groups where everybody wants to learn,” she said. “I’ve become everyone’s little sister.” <br /> <br /> Jessica considers herself a typical teenager who fights with her siblings, has chores and gets moody, but her journey has been anything but conventional.<br /> <br /> Growing up in Gilbert, Ariz., Jessica wowed math tutors throughout elementary school, skipped the eighth grade and high school, and at age 12 enrolled at the local community college. “I would still hang out with friends my age,” she said. “I just got to skip the social drama and gossip of junior high.” <br /> <br /> Two years later Jessica graduated with two associate’s degrees and began her university search.<br /> <br /> “Most universities we spoke to didn’t know what to do with a 14-year-old,” said Rachel Brooke, Jessica’s mom. “I wanted a smaller university with a student body that aligned with LDS church values, offered an institute program and had a high placement rate for pre-med students.” <br /> <br /> They discovered all of that at WSU.<br /> <br /> “Jessica is the youngest student ever to enroll at Weber State,” said WSU Provost <b>Michael Vaughan</b>. “Because of our early college program, we had already addressed the issues that surround young teenage students, such as computer access and restrictive materials.” <br /> <br /> Physics professor <b>Bradley Carroll</b> instructs Jessica in his honors class.“She’s like any of the other smart, capable and interesting students in my classes,” he said. “If you had told me I had a 15-year-old in one of my classes, I wouldn’t have been able to pick her out. She fits right in.” Because of her age, Jessica lives at home and is not allowed to date or go to college parties. That’s just fine with her.<br /> <br /> “I hang out with a lot of friends from church that are still in high school,” Jessica said with a smile. “I could still experience prom. That’s if I get asked.” <br /> <br /> Jessica has encountered her fair share of critics along the way. “I’ve had friends tell me I’m missing out on my childhood,” she said. “Others assume my mom pushes me to succeed, but when they get to know me they’ll see I love the challenge.” <br /> <br /> Extreme focus and hard work are how Jessica explains her success. “Nobody criticizes a teenager who is intense at sports,” she said. “Just because my intensity is on learning, some people think I’m weird. Defending myself can be very frustrating.” <br /> <br /> With no plans to slow down, Jessica maintains a full course load with classes in chemistry, physics and music. She also volunteers for a humanitarian organization twice a week.<br /> <br /> When Jessica isn’t studying, going to class or hanging out with her friends, she plays classical music on the piano and cello.<br /> <br /> "I am really happy with where I am in my life right now," Jessica said. “And pretty soon, my mom won’t have to drive me around anymore. We’re both really excited about that.”<br />

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