Zaalyiah Giddens, a 15-year-old Stockton resident, has remarkably graduated with a high school diploma and has already begun her college journey. Through dedication, persistence, and her family’s support, Giddens managed to complete four years’ worth of high school classes in just two years.
“On the hard days where I didn’t want to get up to do the work, maybe a motivational conversation or just a check-in or something small like a hug, I think, was the biggest motivation,” she said to ABC10.
The 15-year-old used hybrid options to get ahead of her classmates, although she was discouraged. “I was told I couldn’t, that I can only graduate in 11th grade or a semester early in 12th grade. So I had the idea to graduate two years early, and I did just that,” Giddens expressed.
Her mother, Victoria Webb-Giddens, disclosed that she had to find virtual courses partnered with a college to accelerate Giddens’ learning when she realized that the traditional school system was moving too slowly for her.
Webb-Giddens shared that “she was finishing the classes in one to two days. A whole semester’s worth of courses in one to two days.”
According to her, Giddens excelled by passing tests and courses in a fraction of the average time. “She put in so much effort, late nights, early mornings. Some days, she was up before me,” Webb-Giddens remarked. “She was committed, and when she went to graduation, everybody was shocked because she was the only 15-year-old while everyone else was 18 and 19 years old.”
This inspired her mother to also take online college courses and earn her own degree alongside her daughter. Giddens’ exceptional academic performance led her to graduate from both the National Honor Society and the National Junior Honor Society.
“I just didn’t want to be in high school the full four years,” said Giddens. “But I think the driving force really was just to set a high bar for achievements.”
The exceptional teen is currently attending Western Governors University, pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business and IT Management, with a future goal of starting her own cybersecurity business.