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Local Boca Raton Student Graduates From FAU Before Graduating High School

Nicole Cortina, along with nine other students, graduated from high school in May, with one detail that set them apart from their classmates—they had already completed their college degrees. 

Cortina, 17, graduated from Florida Atlantic University on May 5, six days before she graduated from Florida Atlantic University High School on May 11. 

She graduated with a bachelor's of arts degree in criminology with minors in political science and sociology.

“Knowing I am one of the youngest FAU graduates is a surreal feeling,” she says. “Knowing that I was able to achieve something so rewarding at such a young age inspires me to continue pushing myself and see what I'm capable of.”

According to Cortina, FAU High School is designed to give students the opportunity to advance their studies at a young age. By their second year of high school, students transition to the FAU college campus and begin taking college classes for both high school and college credits. 

Born to Colombian parents, Cortina is a first-generation American with big dreams and an even bigger drive to succeed. While balancing her time between the mock-trial team, spending time with friends and family and participating in beauty pageants, Cortina took on a rigorous course load, which she says required a lot of sacrifice on her part. 

“When I was faced with the struggles of studying and taking six classes I had to remember my end goal,” Cortina says. “Seeing that I was so close to achieving what I had worked so hard for is what fueled my fire.”

In the fall, Cortina plans to pursue a master’s degree in criminology at Florida State University. After that, she hopes to attend Harvard Law School, receive a law degree and enroll in FBI training camp to become a field agent. 

“This has been my dream job since I was a child, and the age at which one can apply is 23 to 24,” she says. “I plan to have my bachelors, masters and law degree by that age, that way I am qualified to be one of the youngest FBI field agents.” 

Photo courtesy of Nicole Cortina