weather icon Clear

13-year-old wunderkind with 4 associate degrees headed for UNLV

Updated May 29, 2020 - 3:59 pm

A 13-year-old who graduated last week from a community college in California with four associate degrees and a 4.0 GPA plans to continue his education at UNLV.

Jack Rico earned the degrees in two years from Fullerton College in Southern California, becoming the youngest graduate in the school’s history.

“It was a really fun and interesting experience,” Jack said Thursday by phone from home in Whittier, near Los Angeles. “I didn’t really know what I was looking into at the start of it.”

He said it was challenging and stressful at times, but he pulled through.

Jack plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in history at UNLV, noting it’s what his mother studied in college.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” he said. “It’s the story of where we came from.”

His mother, Ru Andrade, said the family travels to Utah multiple times a year and often stops in Las Vegas. Jack toured UNLV’s campus and “he was just sold right there,” she said.

Remote class first up

Jack plans to start his UNLV experience by taking a summer class remotely in early June.

This fall, the family plans to stay in a hotel in Las Vegas so Jack can attend his UNLV classes Mondays through Wednesdays. Andrade’s 15-year-old daughter — who’s home-schooled — will come with them.

Three or four middle school-age students attended UNLV during the fall 2019 semester, university officials said in December. That included two Las Vegas siblings — 12-year-old Shenlone Wu and 13-year-old Shenmei Wu. It was not clear how many young students will attend the school in the fall.

But UNLV spokesman Tony Allen said the university will do everything it can to make Jack feel at home.

“Jack is a remarkable young man with a bright future ahead of him, and we’re thrilled that he chose UNLV to continue his academic journey,” Allen said. “We have a long history of Rebels making it happen by following their dreams, no matter how big, and we look forward to welcoming Jack and his family to UNLV.”

As for Jack, he said he’s looking forward to taking a “variety of classes” at UNLV in history and other subjects, and exploring his options and interests. “I still don’t have life figured out yet,” he said.

Andrade said her son has been passionate about history since he was a young child.

“He’s not a genius,” she said. “He works very hard. He just loves information and loves learning.”

Outside of school, “He really is 13 when it comes to play,” Andrade said, and he loves playing video games. “He will get done with his work just to get to his video games as fast as he can.”

Jack also enjoys spending time with his cousins and sister, drawing and doing activities with a home-schooling group.

‘He came out smart’

Andrade said her son has always been intelligent. “He came out smart. He was always like an old soul.”

When Jack was in about third grade, Common Core State Standards were introduced and it was “something he really struggled with,” Andrade said.

Andrade decided to pursue home-schooling, which “ended up being the right placement for him,” she said.

Home-schooling allowed him a lot of time to learn and be creative, Andrade said, and to work on improving in his areas of weakness.

By 11, Jack had met high school standards. Andrade heard Fullerton College allows advanced students in the K-12 system who pass a placement test to enroll.

Jack started by taking just one class. Andrade asked his professor if she could sit in the back of the classroom for the first couple of days, just to reassure him.

“He’s tiny for his age,” she said. “At 11, he just looked like 6.”

Loved being in college

Jack quickly fell in love with being in college, Andrade said, and told her she didn’t have to sit in his classroom anymore.

Jack took summer classes at Fullerton College and was enrolled full-time for three semesters.

Initially, his goal was to complete one associate’s degree, but he took classes in a variety of subject areas and ended up completing four — in history; arts and human expression; social behavior and self development; and social science.

“At 11 years old, to ask him to choose a major was quite a bit,” Andrade said.

At the end each semester, Andrade reassessed with Jack whether he wanted to take more classes. She wanted to make sure he wasn’t too stressed out.

He wasn’t. And now he’s off to UNLV.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Jara says time for debate is over on CCSD reopening plan - VIDEO
With pressure growing for the Clark County School District to modify its school reopening plan, Superintendent Jesus Jara said Tuesday that the time has come to move forward on the existing blueprint. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RTC considers route changes as pandemic affects ridership, revenue - Video
Stung by a drop in public bus ridership because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is considering systemwide service changes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)v
Fireworks light up Las Vegas - Video
Las Vegas celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks lighting up the entire valley. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fireworks in the Moapa sky - Video
Fireworks explode near Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza during Fourth of July festivities in Moapa, northwest of Las Vegas, on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fourth of July fireworks at Plaza in downtown Las Vegas - Video
Fourth of July fireworks at the Plaza casino lit up the night sky in downtown Las Vegas on Saturday. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas teen shares COVID-19 story on social media - Video
Kaydee Asher speaks with the RJ about what it's like having COVID-19, how she may have contracted the virus, and how she's using her platform to tell other young people to be safe. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police officer Shay Mikalonis moved to spinal cord center.
Paralyzed Las Vegas police officer Shay Mikalonis was being transferred to an out-of-state medical facility Wednesday morning for treatment of a severe spinal cord injury. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mahagony fire timelapse
Timelapse of Mt.Charleston Mahogany fire as seen from Skye Canyon. (Andrea Leal)
Summerlin will have virtual 4th of July parade - Video
The Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade will be held virtually this year on July 4. Golden Knights players Nate Schmidt and Alec Martinez will take part. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Effort to fight illegal fireworks resumes for Fourth of July (PSAs) - Video
Law enforcement in Clark County will take part in the interagency "You Light It, We Write It” campaign to crack down on the use of illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas Valley this Fourth of July. (Clark County)
Henderson police officers test positive for COVID-19 - Video
Two officers with the Henderson Police Department received positive test results for coronavirus on June 21, 2020. The officers were assigned to the Training and Development Unit. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tech problems on DMV website cause long lines - Video
Las Vegas residents have been standing in line for hours frustrated because they can't make an appointment on the Department of Motor Vehicles website due to technical issues. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News COVID-19 testing site opening at Texas Station - Video
The Texas Station site is operating in addition to the drive-thru testing site in the UNLV Tropicana parking garage next to the Thomas & Mack Center. Both sites are operated by Clark County and University Medical Center in partnership with the Nevada National Guard. (Renee Summerour and Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Lives Matter protest mural on Juneteenth - Video
Amy Van Rosen with the Good All Day Collective joins volunteers to create a Black Lives Matter protest mural on the Majestic Repertory Theatre building in downtown Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada tribal nations keep their people safe from coronavirus - Video
Tribal members at Walker River Paiute Tribe's Walker River Indian Reservation in Schurz and at Reno-Sparks Indian Colony's Hungry Valley Reservation take care of their own in the age of coronavirus. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Victims of the Alpine fire discuss life after 6 months - Video
Residents who were victims in the Alpine Apartment Fire on Dec. 21 recall what happened and some of the struggles they are facing after six months. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family welcomes baby during pandemic in Spain - Video
Henderson native Air Force Maj. Chris Stein, stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, and his wife dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, diagnoses for COVID-19 and having an unexpected home birth for their third child. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jara to present school reopening plan to CCSD board next week - VIDEO
A much-anticipated plan for reopening doors at the Clark County School District will come before the board next week, according to Superintendent Jesus Jara.
Foster mom corrals an armful of kids at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children - Video
Tytaliayah Parker cares her five foster kids and her biological daughter at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Resident of apartment complex where fire occurred said he didn’t hear fire alarm - Video
Travis Mattsson, who has lived at Siegel Suites Las Vegas Boulevard for a year, said he didn’t hear a fire alarm in his unit. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vigil held in downtown Las Vegas - VIDEO
The Forced Trajectory Project conducted a vigil downtown on Saturday evening to honor those lost to police violence. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteer drivers deliver restaurant-quality meals to those in need - Video
Graffiti Bao, a restaurant, is partnering with Delivering with Dignity to provide restaurant-quality meals to those in need. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Black Lives Matter, anti-racism rally held in Las Vegas - Video
More than 1,000 people protested peacefully in Kianga Isoke Palacio Park near Doolittle Community Center in the Historic Westside neighborhood of Las Vegas on Friday night, June 5. It was a Black Lives Matter rally and candlelight vigil for George Floyd and other black Americans who have died in confrontations with police. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Soul City WiFi Project brings free internet to Historic Westside Las Vegas - Video
Steven Williams, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation speaks at a press conference about the creation of a free WiFi network to help underserved communities, followed by a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Academic Excellence Awards 2020 - Video
The Las Vegas Review Journal's Academic Excellence program is designed to recognized 1st thru 12th grade students in Southern Nevada who exhibit academic achievement, community involvement, and leadership in and out of the classroom.
A motorist driving recklessly lost control of their vehicle and smashed into a house
Las Vegas police said a motorist driving recklessly lost control of their vehicle, which then smashed into a house at 401 South Torrey Pines Drive. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Las Vegas police briefing on shooting during Black Lives Matter protest
Sheriff Joe Lombardo briefs the media on shootings during the Black Lives Matter protest that left one man dead and a Metro officer in critical condition on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Areas of Red Rock Canyon reopen - Video
The BLM Southern Nevada District reopened access to areas of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on June 1, 2020, including; Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive, Red Rock Overlook, Late Night Trailhead, Red Spring Boardwalk, Calico Basin and Kraft Mountain Trailheads. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rebel store looted
The manager of a Rebel gas station talks about looting at the Tropicana and Koval store over the weekend. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fremont Street Experience is counting down to reopening - Video
A countdown clock is running for the reopening of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, May 29, 2020. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Train carrying decommissioned nuclear reactor passes through Las Vegas - VIDEO
The train carrying a decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel from Southern California is passing through Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southern Nevada Health District COVID-19 update
Southern Nevada Health District staff conduct a video briefing to provide updates about the public health agency’s COVID-19 response in Clark County.
Neighborhood rallies behind grad amid the coronavirus lockdown
Riley Lynn Thacker's mom put a sign in their yard to congratulate her daughter completing her senior year and neighbors followed suit. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
University of California system tabs first Black president

Dr. Michael Drake was chosen Tuesday to be president of the University of California, the first Black leader in the system’s 150-year history.