Spencer Jackman has been attending college since before he could drive. Which, at 17 years old, hasn’t been too long.
He’s set to graduate from Brigham Young University this month with a degree in communications studies, following a family tradition of utilizing concurrent enrollment classes to catapult their educational futures.
“It’s not that we’re smarter than anyone else,” said Mikaela Jackman, Spencer’s sister. “We were able to learn how to get the full degree.”
There has been only one other 17-year-old who graduated from BYU within the last five years, according to the university.
Spencer will turn 18 in February and plans to leave in March for a two-year ecclesiastical mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Indianapolis.
He will finish the classes needed in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree in communications studies this month, but will miss the university’s commencement ceremony in April.
Spencer started semesters by mentioning his age during icebreaker exercises.
“I’d give my spiel and mention it, and people would turn around and I would hear whispers and whatnot, and then people would talk to me afterwards,” he said. “Unless I mentioned it, it was pretty easy to blend in.”
Three of Spencer’s older siblings received their associates degrees earlier than their peers. He has one younger sibling who is on track to meet a similar deadline.
The five Jackman children have taken concurrent enrollment classes through Utah Valley University in order to get college credits for classes they were taking as part of their high school schedules.
Mikaela graduated with her bachelor’s degree in recreation management at 19. She’s now 22.
“For us, we heard about this opportunity and thought it was something we should take advantage of,” she said.
The family, who lives in Orem, heard about concurrent enrollment classes from their mother, who herself heard it from a neighbor.
“My mom is a single mom, and she knew she wouldn’t really be able to help us get through college due to the circumstances, so when she found out it was $5 a credit, she was like, this is a good opportunity,” Mikaela said.
Spencer received his associate degree from UVU and graduated from Timpanogos High School in Orem at 16. He decided to continue on to college and finish classes before leaving on a mission.
“Really I have just liked it,” Spencer said. “It was really fun.”
After returning from his mission, Spencer plans to travel for a week or two, get a job and then break into acting and musical theater.
Theater is a passion of his. He balanced his high school and college classes while participating in productions of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Beauty and the Beast” and a Broadway showcase. His older brother also juggled his classes with wrestling, football and weightlifting.
Mikaela said it’s all about pushing forward and managing time effectively.
“It’s not as bad as people think,” she said.
They’re big advocates of concurrent enrollment classes. But although each child has gone through the same process, Mikaela said Spencer has been different.
“By the time it got to Spencer, he just kind of cruised right on through,” she said.