The Valdosta Daily Times
At 13 years old, most students would be in the seventh or eighth grade, preparing to begin high school. Ezekiel Menefee is not like most 13-year-olds, as he is four weeks into his first semester of college.
Menefee, who came to Valdosta with his mother and sister two years ago, was home schooled after deciding that public school wasn’t right for him. His mother home-schooled him with the help of the HYPE (Helping Young People Excel) program.
The HYPE program’s aim is “to promote the well-being of young people by helping them discover that their life experiences, challenges, and frustrations can be turned into positive motivations to reduce the prevalence of high-risk behaviors and to live a life that’s hyped for a purpose.”
Creation Divine, Menefee’s mother and the director of the HYPE program, said of his education, “He went to public school during the sixth and seventh grades and did very well. He had straight As, was on the student council, was in band, drama and played sports, but he didn’t enjoy school. In the second semester of seventh grade, he asked us if he could be home schooled. Then after that he decided he wanted an even greater opportunity, so we did some research and found that Wiregrass Georgia Technical College will accept 13-year-olds if they pass the college-entry exam.”
The entry exam proved to be no issue for Menefee, scoring a 99 on writing, a 96 on reading and a 50 on algebra. This semester, he will take 17 college hours, a total of seven classes.
Through taking these courses at Wiregrass, Menefee will be able to graduate from high school and college at the same time by receiving dual credit.
He is hoping to graduate with his high school diploma and associate’s degree in Digital Media when he is 15 years old.
Angela Hobby, Wiregrass’ community and college relations executive director, said Menefee “is the youngest student that we have had that we are currently aware of. While admitting students this young is definitely not the norm, Ezekiel is not your average 13-year-old and he excelled on the entrance exam in all parts. We are excited about working with him and his family as he continues his education.”
Being the youngest person in his classes is a little lonely for Menefee, but he handles it well.
“The next youngest person in my class is 20 years old and we talk some, but I haven’t connected with everyone. Even though I am a lot younger, everyone has really embraced me. They always say that I seem mature for my age and they wish they would have been able to do what I am doing when they were younger,” he said.
His presence has also been an eye-opener for Wiregrass faculty.
Marcus McConico, digital media program coordinator, is one of Menefee’s instructors. He said, “I was a little shocked to find out that I was going to have a student so young in class. The age difference between he and the rest of the class has not been a problem at all. He has fit in well academically and socially with the rest of the digital-media students. If he didn’t look so young, I wouldn’t know that he was any different from the other. He is a very smart young man and we are lucky to have a student of his caliber at Wiregrass.”
Menefee attributes much of his success to the home-schooling program.
“I liked that I could go at my own pace. If I understood something, I could go through it quickly and move forward. If I struggled with something, I could go
slower until I could grasp it better.”
He also had words of encouragement for anyone who would like to do what he is doing. “Just keep working at it. There is always room for improvement. This is not just something available for me. This is available for all kids.”
Menefee is making a name for himself through more than being a 13-year-old college student. He is a local inspirational and motivational rap artist. He performed at the Valdosta Spirit of American celebration on the Fourth of July and he also has several videos on YouTube of his rapping. His rap name is E.Z. Menefee.
As for his future, Menefee has high hopes. He plans to go to Oklahoma University and study some form of media production, though he isn’t sure about his future career. He explained, “I don’t really know what my dream job would be. I love sports, so I would like to go to the NFL. I would like to be a music superstar. I would like to be a video producer or maybe an actor. I am not sure yet.”
He has a sister, Essence Menefee, 6, who is also a motivational speaker.
More information on the HYPE program, visit www.hype4purpose.org; or email firstname.lastname@example.org