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Illinois Teen Earns Master's, Sets Sights on Ph.D.


At 16, most teenagers think about getting their driver's license and borrowing the car.  But one Illinois student is planning what to do with her Master's degree.

Preparing for graduation has become a common experience for 16-year-old Thessalonika Arzu-Embry.

In 2013, she made national headlines when she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology at age 14. Now, she's graduating with a Master's degree from Regent University.

The Illinois teen majored in organizational leadership with a focus on strategic foresight, something she hopes to put to use right away.

"That degree is to help businesses prepare for the trends that will impact them in the future," the young prodigy told CBN News.

Arzu-Embry chose Regent because of its outstanding academic track record and its strong Judeo-Christian principles.

"We had a lot of offers from different schools, but we felt the Lord leading us to go to this school," she said. "It has that environment of the word of God being taught there and that's what we like."

In September 2014, she began online classes and finished the Master's program in just eight months.

"We thank God for giving us the wisdom, giving me the wisdom to help finish my schoolwork and take these courses and understand them," she said.

Her online classes were filled with students twice her age. Professors say while completing graduate-level studies is a tremendous accomplishment at any age, it's amazing for someone Arzu-Embry's age.

"Our Master's degrees, especially at Regent University, are very rigorous," Dr. Doris Gomez told CBN News. "We have a very high standard. We demand excellence from our students, you know, to glorify God at the same time."

"So these are not easy degrees to pursue," she continued. "For students to graduate from a Master's degree at that young of an age, of course, is just an incredible gift. I cannot describe it any other way."

Her 25-year-old brother, Jeremy, who completed his Master's degree alongside his little sister, said keeping up with her was no easy task.

"The journey was quite challenging," he told CBN News. "It makes me feel very thankful to God for allowing me to be a part of this family dynamic and part of the success He has given both of us to be an inspiration."

With grad school now checked off her list of goals, this girl genius said she's ready to take the next step.

"I'm going to get a Ph.D. in aviation," she said.

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