Paine College’s youngest student graduates at 17 after starting college classes aged 12

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AUGUSTA, GA. (WJBF)- A sweet gift for Mother’s Day, Paine College professor Kimberly Baxter-Lee is Charleston Lee’s mother and is certainly proud of her daughter’s accomplishments.

“I brought Charleston home on Christmas Day, it was my Christmas present – in 2004. And here we are rehearsing another great Mother’s Day present,” said Kimberly Baxter- Lee.

The graduate’s grandmother, who is also a graduate of Paine College, was there for her special day alongside the rest of her family and cheer section.

As Lee follows a legacy, she wanted people to know her for “Charlie,” as she created her own path at the institution.

“As I got older, during the ride home, I wanted to be known as ‘you know, oh yeah, I relate to them’ but I wanted to get my bearings first before filling in the gaps,” Charleston Lee said.

Lee began his college journey by taking dual-enrollment classes at age 12 and eventually tested his career in high school – starting college at age 14.

“I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I had that basic information from taking dual-enrollment classes at age 12,” Lee said.

Her mother says Lee knew what she wanted young.

“Charleston was always an only child when she was maybe 10 or 11, she knew she didn’t want to go to school anymore. So I said you had to go to school, she said “Well, Martin Luther King left school at 15, why not me?” Baxter-Lee said.

Lee plans to attend Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a master’s degree in science.

For other people her age, she says college is just the first step.

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