Most 18-year-olds are moving into their residence halls and preparing for their first college course, but Aaron Parnas and Kisa Ibrahim have already completed their first week of classes at GW Law School.
Parnas and Ibrahim juggled high school and college simultaneously at Florida Atlantic University High School and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla. Instead of taking four years to complete each degree, the two 18-year-olds got their college diplomas before officially graduating from high school by dual-enrolling in college and high school classes.
The two students started a pre-law society at their high school so students like themselves could have resources for mentorship as they continued with upper-level college classes and learned about applying to law school.
Both students said they’ve had an interest in law for a long time, but for Ibrahim, it was as early as elementary school.
“I’ve always had an interest in law ever since I put Christopher Columbus on trial in my 5th grade class. I absolutely fell in love with litigation after that,” she said.
Ten students from their graduating class at Florida Atlantic University High School graduated with a bachelor’s degree and a high school diploma, Ibrahim said.
Both students credited taking full course loads over the summer, online classes and adding extra classes during the school year as ways they were able to complete both degrees concurrently.
Ibrahim, who majored in political science and criminal justice with a minor in business law, graduated high school and college when she was 17 years old. She said she was thankful for the opportunity to complete both degrees and save money while doing it but did miss out on typical high school and college experiences.
“There were things for sure that I missed out on, but I kind of lived vicariously through my friends at regular high schools,” Ibrahim said. “That was definitely my escape from college life, when I just wanted to feel my age.”
When Ibrahim graduates from law school, she’ll be 20 years old. Her birthday is just a few weeks before students take the bar exam, so she will just barely be the minimum age to take the test.
Parnas, who majored in political science and criminal justice, said he enjoyed his first week of law school, but that living by himself for the first time in an apartment in the District has been an adjustment. Although he’s used to being the youngest in a classroom, he said he was nervous to walk into his first week of classes and interact with older students in the law school.
“To say the least, I was very nervous because I didn’t know whether they would approve of me or not,” Parnas said. “Now everything’s great and I’m not nervous at all. I’m only nervous to be cold called on in class.”
Parnas added that taking high school and college classes at the same time forced him to mature much faster than students his age because he was interacting with people who were older and more experienced than he was.
“You definitely have to grow up faster and learn how to interact with people who are older than you at a really young age,” Parnas said.
Although Parnas and Ibrahim are at least four years younger than most of their classmates, Parnas said he has had no problem making friends and working with the older students. The only hitch is that he can’t go to their weekly “bar review,” where law students go to local bars, because he’s still too young to drink.
“The only thing I really missed out on was the fraternities and frat parties and all that,” he said. “But I think that graduating early outweighs being able to go to a few parties a week.”
Both of the students said they chose GW Law School because it’s the political center of the country and will help them jump-start their intended future careers in politics.
Parnas, a Republican who wasn’t old enough to vote in this year’s election, volunteered by calling voters in primary states and going door-to-door for President Donald Trump’s campaign in Florida, as well as Marco Rubio’s senate campaign. He does not have a set plan for life after law school, but said he wants to “change America for the better.”
Parnas said that he already knows he wants to be president one day and his classmate, Ibrahim, echoed that sentiment. Ibrahim, who is also a Republican, said that she would love to run for office one day but that her ultimate goal is to be the first female president.
“We’ve been competing since day one,” she said.