A 17-year-old from Charlottesville, Virginia, managed to earn his bachelor’s degree two weeks prior to earning his high school diploma.
Ryland Dickman graduated from Liberty University in May with a bachelor’s in business administration. He completed his coursework through the school’s online degree program and is the youngest person in the class of 2021 to graduate, a university announcement said.
Dickman said the online format allowed him to complete his high school coursework from The Covenant School in Charlottesville and college simultaneously.
“[The University was] flexible with online courses and not having any set log in times, which allowed for me to do my homework at night on my own schedule,” Dickman said in the announcement. “In the spring, I would have musical theatre rehearsals and wouldn’t be able to do my homework until late, so not having a set time where I had to be doing it in the day was very helpful.”
While juggling his classes, Dickman still managed to learn new languages, participate in school musicals and serve as the president of his high school’s judicial council, according to Fox News.
“I felt really involved this year, even though I was balancing college and high school,” he told Fox.
Getting to graduation wasn’t easy, and Dickman said there were “bureaucratic things” in the way which nearly prevented him from accomplishing his goals.
Most colleges will not allow students to enroll without a high school diploma, even when they prove academic excellence. To work around it, Dickman earned his associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College as a sophomore in high school and then transferred to Liberty.
“Not all the universities I looked into were willing to accept all my credits and CLEP exams,” Dickman said in the statement. “But Liberty was very helpful with that and due to my having an associate degree, they made the decision to accept me.” (RELATED: Teen Graduating from High School And Harvard In The Same Month)
Dickman’s family has cheered him on during every step of his journey.
“We have just supported him in whatever he wanted to do,” said Latricia Dickman, Ryland’s mom, to NBC 29. “So when he said mom I’m going to sign up for classes at Northern Virginia Community College, I said can you do that? You’re in 10th grade.”
Latricia said her son’s accomplishments are a result of his determination and “goal-driven” personality. He first started teaching himself languages in the 5th grade, Fox reported. Now, he can speak nine.
Dickman’s next goal might just be his most challenging academic pursuit yet: law school.
“Law has always interested me.” Dickman said in the announcement. “When I read a new law or read a contract, I become very excited. Something that is often daunting to many people is exciting to me.”
He has his sights set on schools in Europe — preferably in Italy — to be able to travel, experience new cultures and put his language skills to work.
“I just feel strongly that God blessed him with this affinity to learn languages and that he’s meant to do something other than be here living in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Latricia said.” She added that “there are big plans out there, big things for him to do in the world.”