MARIETTA— Washington State Community College alumnae Rachael Rhodes has a long and rather impressive list of lifetime accomplishments. In fact, she recently recapped a few in celebration of her birthday. Among the most notable were: earning multiple college degrees, writing a novel, purchasing four homes, and starting three businesses. Amplifying the magnitude of these accomplishments is the fact that she’s only 20 years old and her list of feats were all completed in the past seven years.
On September 20, Rhodes’ Facebook post chronicled her transition into what she called, her “roaring 20s” with a laundry list of achievements. Topping the chart was enrolling in college at just 13 years old, an act that was prompted because she didn’t feel sufficiently challenged by her middle school classes. Initially, she and her parents discussed the option of her skipping a grade, however, the principal disagreed, pointing out that Rhodes’ IQ score of 110 didn’t make her eligible for that option. College Credit Plus (CCP) was offered as an alternative.
“I’m so glad she did that because had she not done it, I probably would have never done CCP,” recognized Rhodes. CCP is a state program that allows Ohio students in 7th through 12th grade the opportunity to earn college credits and high school credits concurrently, and in Rhodes’ case, she also earned middle school credits, all at no cost.
The decision to pursue a college degree at such an early age served as the springboard for Rhodes’ extraordinary future. Despite advocating for a bigger challenge, she entered the world of higher education with trepidation. The fall of her 8th grade year, she opted to maintain her status as a Marietta Middle School student and added to her course load by taking two evening classes at Washington State.
One of those classes was English Composition taught by Pearley Brown. “He really kind of changed my life,” acknowledged Rhodes. “He had such a different and interesting perspective on things. It was very eye-opening.” She described how he saw past the fact that she was only 13 years old and treated her like any other college student. That experience gave her the confidence to make the bold decision to remove herself from middle school and enroll full-time at Washington State the following semester.
For the next two years, she embraced what it meant to be a college student. She got involved in campus activities and even served as the President of Student Senate. Her good grades made her eligible to participate in the college’s honors program, and ultimately earned her an invitation to be inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the official honor society for two-year colleges.
While the rigors of higher education provided her with the academic challenges she craved, Rhodes still wanted engagement with her peers. She was able to make those connections through her involvement with competitive dance as well as being a part of Marietta High School’s dance team, the Marquettes, and cheering for the varsity cheer squad.
By the time she turned 15 she had earned not just one, but two associate degrees (liberal arts and general science transfer) with the summa cum laude distinction. Astonishingly, she successfully managed all of these expectations while working.
Although the expense of tuition, fees and books were covered by CCP, other costs associated with going to college, like transportation were the responsibility of Rhodes. Motivated not to accrue debt that could possibly stifle her ambitious plans, Rhodes maintained a steady stream of income throughout her college career. The daughter of a Ukrainian immigrant, one of Rhodes’ jobs was teaching English as a second language online. At just 14, she introduced Russians to the English language. “That was pretty exciting because I was working with people from around the world. They had no idea that I was only 14 years old.” She also established a drop-shipping business. Both means of her income were clear displays of her entrepreneurial spirit.
With her associate degrees in hand, but not yet old enough to drive, Rhode’s academic progress slowed, but by no means did it come to a halt. As the months to her 16th birthday slowly passed, she took additional classes at WSCC that she would eventually transfer to Ohio University (OU), and stayed busy working to earn enough money to buy a car that would get her to the next chapter in her life.
As a result of her hard work and desire to leave college debt-free, when she finally turned 16, she was able to pay cash for her very first car, a 2013 Ford Fiesta. In fact, it’s the very same car she drives today.
Now with a means of getting to class, her bachelor’s degree was within her grasp and she pursued it with the same zeal she displayed while earning her associate degrees. While successfully juggling three part-time jobs and two internships, in addition to her classes, Rhodes graduated summa cum laude from OU at just 17 years old with a degree in political science pre-law. And because she was still enrolled through the CCP program and her part-time jobs covered her expenses related to transportation, she finished with absolutely zero college debt.
Her plan had always been to make law school her next step, but upon careful consideration, she changed her mind. “I decided I didn’t want to work 90 hours a week. I decided there was a lot of value in passive income and decided I wanted to get my real estate license,” explained Rhodes.
Over the next year she wrote a novel and held addresses in three different states. When she finally reached the age of majority, she settled in the state of Washington and became a licensed realtor. Out of the gate in her new career, she sold 18 homes with $3.5 million in sales volume. The year that followed was even better. She flipped two houses, bought four houses, started three companies, and helped 16 families buy and sell real estate.
Her official Facebook post recapping her achievements read:
“Not nasty 19 anymore, into my #roaring20s! Last year I did a recap so here goes: In the past 18 years I started college at 13, started working at 14, got two associate’s degrees at 15, bought a car in cash with my savings at 16, worked 3 jobs 16-18, had 2 internships (+ the jobs) at 17, got my bachelor’s at 17, wrote a novel in 3 days at 17, moved from OH -> WV -> TX -> WA all at 18, became a licensed realtor at 18, and property managed at 18. And this past year I: flipped 2 houses at 19, bought 4 homes at 19, started 3 companies at 19, helped 16 families buy/sell real estate at 19. Now I’m 20… let’s see what I do this year.”
While some may read her review of her life and see it as smug, Rhodes said she annually writes the list to ground herself and that it serves as a reminder of what she’s accomplished. “I get imposter syndrome and feel like I’m not filling the role. I don’t want it to come across as bragging,” she confessed.
In the US, the average age of a real estate agent is 49, which is more than twice Rhodes’ age. “When I recount what I’ve accomplished, sometimes I don’t understand why I’m not at the same point they are. I have to remind myself that I’m not 40, I’m 20,” she laughed.
In seven years, Rhodes has accomplished more than many people achieve in a lifetime, yet she humbly shies away from the well-deserved praise. “I’m not really anything special, I’m just extremely motivated and driven. It’s not your intelligence. It’s not what you know or who you know. You can truly accomplish anything if you just put your mind to it. People never believe that, but it’s true.”
In reflection of the incredible exploits leading up to her 20th birthday, Rhodes credits her start at Washington State Community College with making it all possible. “I never would have been where I am today without WSCC. Truly. If I had gone the traditional route I would have been 22 before I finished college, and then who knows where I would have gone from there. I would have probably gone to law school,” she speculated. “I guess I would have started my career at 28 instead of 18 and I would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.”
Looking ahead, Rhodes has big plans for her future. “I want to be financially free. Not retired, because I think I’ll always want to work; I want to be free to where I don’t have to work by 30. I think I can get there. I have 10 years,” she said confidently.
For more details about the College Credit Plus program at WSCC, visit wscc.edu/future/early-college/ccp.