Joe Faryean III was 12 years old when he started at Detroit’s Martin Luther King Jr High School. Later this month, he will be the youngest person to graduate from a Detroit Public School this year and with a near perfect GPA no less.
“I just keep looking toward the future,” said Joe, who was ranked, just before final exams, as third in his senior class of 347 students.
Joe, whose fascination with the human brain fueled his desire to study neurology, has been accepted by nine colleges. He’s still deciding between his top two, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
“It’s one of the few things we actually do not know a lot about,” he said.
His father, Joe Faryean Jr., said he knew early on that the youngest of his three sons was special. Born in Liberia, Joe was 3 when he moved with his mother and two brothers to Ghana to escape a civil war. His father was living in the U.S. at the time.
In preschool and kindergarten, Joe would skip nap time so he could keep working on his lessons.
“The teacher in Ghana, he called me one day to tell me, ‘You’ve got to keep an eye on your son, you’ve got to take care of him. He’s very gifted,'” Faryean said, smiling.
Joe skipped quite a few grades and his father had to convince district officials to let him enter high school. They were skeptical at first, but eventually agreed.
“As a teacher, once every five or six years you have a student where you’re just kind of in awe of them, and Joe is definitely one of those students,” his calculus teacher, David Menczer, said. “He is so far above the curve in work ethic and determination that it’s humbling.”