Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

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Sweet 16: Teenager Charlotte Rosiak to graduate from UNLV at age 16 with hospitality degree

Charlotte Rosiak Graduates at 16 from UNLV

Courtesy Photo

Charlotte Rosiak at age 16 is the youngest UNLV graduate at the spring semester commencement ceremony. She is receiving a degree in hospitality.

Charlotte Rosiak Graduates at 16 from UNLV

Charlotte Rosiak at age 16 is the youngest UNLV graduate during the spring semester commencement ceremony. She is receiving a degree in hospitality and has a near-4.0. Launch slideshow »

More than 3,000 students will cross the stage today at UNLV’s spring commencement ceremony.

As fitting for one of the most diverse schools in the nation, this batch of grads hails from 37 states and 57 countries. Nearly 60 percent come from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The oldest graduate is 72. And at age 16, the youngest graduate is Charlotte Rosiak.

“Charlotte stands out in many ways, but primary among them are her incredible drive, her emotional maturity — she comes across like a 25-year-old woman — and her sense of humor,” said Marta Meana, the Honors College dean. “She is as delightful interpersonally as she is impressive intellectually. She is the whole package!”

Rosiak will be graduating with a near-4.0 grade point average. While she still has some classes to finish over the summer to complete her undergraduate degree in hospitality, Rosiak has already applied to UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.

She hopes to one day work for a federal court or even for the FBI.

“Charlotte was a wonderful student. It was a real pleasure having her in my class,” says Dan Bubb, the faculty-in-residence at the Honors College.

He was impressed with her rigorous work ethic, critical thinking and reasoning skills as well her ability to deliver a persuasive argument.

“[She] truly epitomized the Honors College student. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Charlotte will excel in law school and make a fine attorney,” he added.

The fast track

Rosiak’s parents didn’t realize they had an exceptional child until she skipped eighth grade.

“She was just a regular kid,” said her father, Richard Rosiak.

As a high school freshman, she began taking college classes after school, in the Los Angeles area, where they lived.

“Some people play sports after school. (Academics were) my sport because I was not good at sports,” Charlotte Rosiak says.

Inspired by her older brother who was then attending UNLV (he’s now in medical school), Rosiak started taking UNLV classes as a nondegree-seeking student in the summer of 2016. Then that fall, the family bought a house in Las Vegas and Rosiak left high school behind to begin college in earnest.

“I didn’t graduate high school, so I don’t have a high school diploma.” Rosiak said. “But as long as I have a university diploma, then we’re good.”

Her brother is the one who challenged her to get into the Honors College, a place that would become her “second home.” Rosiak couldn’t resist the challenge, which is perhaps one of the keys to her success.

“I love a challenge and I love being challenged,” Rosiak said. “It’s one of my main motivations.”

Rosiak, who considers herself a “very social person,” keeps in touch with her friends who still attend her old high school. One of her friends even took her to homecoming last year. “I don’t miss any of it,” Rosiak says. “I am happy where I am now.”

A family effort

Having only turned 16 in February, Rosiak is still learning how to drive. She has her learner’s permit and hopes to get her full license after the semester ends. But for now, she relies on her mom to drive her to and from class.

“My mom does all the heavy lifting,” Rosiak says. “She will drop my sister and I off at school and pick us up. This might be harder on my mom than me because she has to do all the driving.”

Little sister is a typical 9-year-old fifth-grader and doesn’t yet have plans to follow an accelerated life path. “We always joke around about that stuff,” Rosiak says. “She wants to go a more traditional path. [When we ask if she wants to skip any grades], she goes, ‘Maybe, we’ll see about it.’

Naturally, Rosiak’s parents are proud. “It’s a real accomplishment — you don’t normally see that,” said Richard Rosiak, who works as a divorce lawyer in the Los Angeles area, and commutes between California and Nevada. “Everybody who asks her about it is very surprised. She started at 13.”

When asked how it felt to have his daughter following in his legal footsteps, Richard Rosiak responded with dry humor: “I am very excited about that. That way I can retire sooner.”

Mom, Margarita, is proud of her daughter’s dedication and offers her full support. “I’m there 100 percent, whenever she needs something from me,” she says. “Advice, friendship, anything she needs, I’m there for her. I’m very proud.”

The family will be hosting a weekend of parties for friends and families.

Just a normal kid … kind of

Rosiak appears to be grounded, as if graduating from college years ahead of her peers is nothing out of the ordinary. She’s a huge Golden Knights fan, she loves painting with watercolors and lunching with friends. She enjoys attending social events put on by the Honors College, such as picnics, game nights and costume parties.

Her Christianity plays a large role in her life, and she does a lot of volunteering for her church.

But has she missed out on a crucial aspect of life in bypassing the normal high school routines and traditions?

“No, I wouldn’t say I missed anything,” Rosiak says. “I don’t have any regrets. I’m very happy with life and happy with the decisions I’ve made so far. My best friends are here at the Honors College. I have a whole normal life.”

Both the Honors College and the Hospitality School have played a huge role in helping Rosiak develop that sense of normalcy. She credits the hospitality program with teaching her how to be open, how to talk to people and put yourself out there. And she found a “second home, a second family” in the students and professors at the Honors College.

“Dean Marta Meana took a chance to take me in at age 14,” Rosiak says. “I’m eternally grateful.

Meana reciprocates the positive sentiments.

“I am very confident that Charlotte will be extremely successful in whatever venture she decides to settle on,” Meana says. “If she ends up being a practicing lawyer, good luck to anyone on the opposing side. She is formidable at 16 — imagine later.”