12-year-old graduates high school and college in same week
Courtesy of the Wimmer Family
(SALISBURY, N.C.) — Mike Wimmer, from Salisbury, North Carolina, graduated from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College on May 21 with a 4.0 GPA and an associate degree. A week later, he graduated from Concord Academy High School with a 5.45 GPA as valedictorian.
In just a year, Mike finished two years of high school and two years of an associate degree. He was already taking dual enrollment classes when he realized he would only need a few more to complete an associate degree and decided to go for it.
“It’s a good feeling to be done,” Mike told “Good Morning America.”
The opportunity to take extra classes during the pandemic helped, Mike said, but his photographic memory and ability to process information at a faster rate than most put him ahead early on.
“Because I can take in knowledge instantly, I can actually get through each class faster than the normal pace,” he explained, adding that he could do the work for an eight-week college class in two.
“He’s just moving along at a really comfortable pace and it just happens to be way faster than the normal pace,” Mark Wimmer, Mike’s father, told “GMA.”
The dual workload wasn’t a problem for Mike either.
“The workload was super easy for me,” he said. “People think that’s probably the one thing I spend the most time on. But to be honest with you, I probably spend the least amount of time on schooling and more time being a kid and playing video games with my friends online and those kinds of things.”
Mike’s mother, Melissa Wimmer, told “GMA” that she and her husband made sure that in addition to fostering his talents, they also made sure Mike socialized with other kids his age.
“He can act very professional and very much like an adult, but he is also a 12-year-old kid. We dance around the house and act crazy and have fun,” she said.
While he did skip grades in his elementary years, Mike pointed out that he made sure to complete the coursework for each one regardless.
“In fifth grade I did work with the high school math and science teacher while also in middle school class,” he said. “So numbers, you could say I skipped — but the curriculum I did complete.”
A mind for tech
Mike describes himself as a well-rounded person with an interest in all subjects, though he’s always leaned more toward STEM fields. He calls himself the “math and science guy.”
“Technology in particular I like because it’s limitless, and I can do whatever I want to with it,” he said.
At age 7, Mike created his first business venture, Next Era Innovations. He was able to build applications for the popular NAO robot, such as the NAO Microphone and NAO Health Companion.
Most of his knowledge of programming and robotics he learned on his own through trial and error and online videos.
“With my first iPad at 18 months old, I would just learn anything — how to write something with a stylus pen, what my states were and those kinds of things,” he said. “And by learning those things, I started to wonder how an iPad worked and how technology works. And from there on, I figured it out.”
His goal is to become a tech entrepreneur and “build technology to enable people to live better lives,” he said.
Mike has already moved onto his next startup idea, Reflect Social, which will focus on combining smart technology with social media.
“We have all these smart home devices like a Ring, a smart light and smart plugs — all these separate things in separate worlds,” Mike said. “So what I’m doing is combining all those devices into one super easy-to-use platform where you can control them all in one place.”
He added: “I’m also going to bring a fun and social factor into it as well. So that way you bring the younger generation to it.”
Looking to the future
Mike’s main problems have been credibility and access due to his age.
“The biggest obstacle is finding people that want to look past the age and look at my abilities instead,” he said.
What’s helped him is support from his parents, who he said have fostered what he wanted to do and advocated on his behalf.
“Elementary school is where we realized just how much fostering we were going to have to do,” Melissa Wimmer said.
His father added, “As soon as you thought you had Mike in a place where he was comfortable learning at a pace he liked, he was pushing farther.”
Their advice to parents is to “make sure that your child is the one that’s pushing and not yourself” and finding the right educators that are willing to help.
“They are out there,” Melissa Wimmer said. “Ask the hard questions and see what their limits are.”
Now, Mike’s able to speak up for himself and offer advice to parents and kids alike.
“The biggest advice I have for parents is to really foster your kid and whatever they want to do, and just really be supportive in whatever that is,” Mike said.
As for his peers, he said, “Always follow your dreams, never let anything stop you.”
From receiving further higher education to internships and job opportunities, Mike’s options are wide open.
“I love everything that I’m doing and I’m having the time of my life,” he said. “I’m excited to see how everything plays out or what I do next.”
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