A Texan teenager just became University of Houston’s youngest Fall 2020 graduate at the age of 17 and her message to the world is, “anything is possible and to not let circumstances get in the way.” Raised by a single mother, Salenah (Selena) Cartier graduated with two degrees under her belt.
It was a tough call for Cartier to choose homeschooling full time after 6th grade. Prior to that, she was shuffling between public education in elementary and middle school. Being at the top of her class constantly, Cartier was bullied by her peers for always chalking high-level academic successes.
Not wanting to entertain ‘mediocrity’ and always seeking bigger challenges academically, Cartier enrolled in a self-paced homeschooling program that made her sail through her course works with ease. So at 14, she graduated from high school and had her eyes set on college.
“I needed a new challenge, and attending college presented the perfect academic and social growth opportunity for me,” she said.
Her mother is a strong pillar in her life because Cartier is one of four children and the family found it hard to make ends meet. They struggled financially but the 17-year-old did not let that impede her progress academically.
While taking dual credit classes at Lone Star College-Kingwood, she found a way to pay for the chunk of her fees by retailing used textbooks on eBay she purchased for less in thrift stores and online.
One piece of advice from her mother kept her going and Cartier said that statement always pushed her to keep feeding her brains regardless of how tough life got.
“My mom would always say you have to figure out what you want to do in life and how you want to make an impact on the world,” she said.
With that mantra plus a few life lessons on the importance of self-worth, she graduated from Lone Star College-Kingwood with an associate of science degree then transferred to the University of Houston.
She is now the youngest graduate in her class with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She will also receive a certificate in Corporate Entrepreneurship from C.T. Bauer College of Business.
Her dream is to help the less fortunate in society through what she knows best — education. Cartier aspires to be an educator, researcher and policymaker to help disadvantaged children in society go for gold.
“I hope that my achievements are able to inspire [people] of all ages. It is never to early or late to pursue a goal. There will never be a perfect time to start a journey, but if you want to succeed, you just have to start. As long as you maintain an open mindset, you will learn on every step of the journey.”
The young scholar has her eyes set on a master’s degree in the College of Education’s Curriculum and Instruction program at UH and concurrently applying to doctoral programs.
“After I complete the master’s program, I will teach college level courses while attending a doctoral program. I would like to research the impact that early life exposure to adversity has on cognitive development,” she told Because Of Them We Can.