LAKELAND, Fla. - Acting your age is one concept Armando, Monica, and Raphael Manjarres have never understood. At 15 years old, the triplets are full-fledged college students.
It’s an remarkable achievement, especially when you learn how far they’ve come.
The kids were born 13 weeks premature. There were health issues and concerns over developmental problems.
“Basically, since then, we decided that one of us had to stay home and take care of the babies,” said their dad, who is also named Armando.
He made it his full time job to become an integral part in every step of his kids’ lives.
The early start paid off for the triplets, who were mostly home schooled because traditional schools didn’t seem challenging enough.
Now all three are earning high school and college credit at the same time through classes at Polk State College.
But the Manjarres family story doesn’t end there -- not until you meet their younger brother.
At 13, Alexander Manjarres is the youngest to ever attend Polk State College. Some classmates are twice his age.
“I just learn the basic stuff faster,” he said.
Alexander was accepted into the Polk State’s Collegiate High School program when he was 12. At this rate he’ll earn his Associate of Arts Degree a few months before he gets his high school diploma at 15.
“Very unusual for most high schools as well as for our program,” said Sallie Brisbane, director of the program. “He came to us already academically ahead of most students his age.”
Of course, it’s not easy. Alexander says he spends anywhere from three to four hours studying per day.
The parents still play a major role in keeping all four kids focused.
“It’s a commitment and you have to work at it,” Armando said. “There’s no basic magic formula, it’s just you learn as you go.”
Although Alex and his siblings spend a lot of time studying, they also make time to play and relax. Finding that perfect balance is key, Armando said.
“A child needs to play, needs to have fun,” he said. “When you create or find that balance, it works out better for the family.”
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