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Black youth are making historic moves in the realm of academia. According to HBCU Buzz, 16-year-old Emory Pruitt recently began her college journey at Clark Atlanta University, making her the youngest student in the HBCU’s 155-year history to attend the school.

Pruitt—who hails from Hendersonville, Tennessee—enrolled at CAU during the Fall 2020 semester when she was 15 years old. Her rise to academic success was no easy feat. While attending high school in her hometown she was often ridiculed for being ambitious and encountered racism. Despite the challenging experiences, Pruitt persevered. Her mother Karen ended up enrolling her in online courses at Penn Foster High School which she believes allowed Emory to zone in on her academic goals without distractions. Emory ended up graduating high school early with a 3.7 GPA. Her exceptional achievements caught the attention of Clark Atlanta University.

Pruitt says the adversity she endured during high school and the support of her loved ones fueled her to reach new heights academically. “It actually was the dedication and my family that pushed me each day,” she said in a statement. “I should thank the people that doubted me; that just made me work even harder.” Lorri Saddler, who serves as Associate Vice President & Dean of Admissions at Clark Atlanta University, says she is proud to have Pruitt be a part of CAU’s community. “We are honored that this exceptional young woman chose Clark Atlanta University to continue her studies and we look forward to supporting her through all of her endeavors,” she said. “Ms. Pruitt has already accomplished so much in just 16 years and we know she’ll continue to build on her successes.” Pruitt will be joined by her brother Elijah as he was accepted into Clark Atlanta University as well.

She joins a list of Black teenagers who have broken barriers in higher education. Last year, Sydney Wilson—a teen from DeKalb County—made history by becoming the youngest person to enroll at Spelman College and 14-year-old Curtis Lawrence became one of the youngest students to attend George Washington University full-time.

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