University of Wisconsin


Julia Nepper is just 23 years old, but she already has her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. Her mother, Nadine Nepper, knew early on that Julia was gifted. “We didn’t think she was being challenged enough,” Nadine recalled in talking with local station WECT. “It was suggested if we wanted her to excel, we’d have to pull her out and homeschool her.” So, for four years, Nadine and her ex-husband home schooled their daughter.


And by the time Julia was 12 years old, she was ready for college. She entered Cape Fear Community College and got her associate’s degree at age 14. Then, she got her bachelor’s degree from UNCW at 16 and now her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at 23. “I’m so proud of her,” Nadine said. “All that hard work has paid off. It’s hard to believe she was kept back in kindergarten that one year.”

“Most of the people I’ve met, in my life, could have done what I did if they had the right support,” Julia said

“I don’t fault my parents, pushing me, with regards to my education. Clearly, I could handle it and it worked. So they must have done something right.” For the first time in over half her lifetime, Julia is facing a period of her life when she doesn’t have any homework. “I’ve been in college most of my life and I haven’t really been in the real world,” Julia said. “It’s exciting but actually scary to go out and get a job.”

While her mother would love for her to come back home, Julia has other plans. In fact, she’s even thinking about trying to get a job in Japan. She’s been ambitious her whole life, and she isn’t about to stop now, after all. Congratulations on your graduation, Julia!

This Article Was First Published on thegrio.com