PALM HARBOR, Fla. — The start of 2022 graduation season is underway and in Pinellas County, a pair of Palm Harbor University High School sisters will walk across the stage and earn their diplomas on May 20, despite both being younger than their peers.
That’s because Janet Liu, age 16, skipped twelfth grade and Melinda Liu, 15, skipped second, fourth and twelfth grades!
The sisters are best friends. They hang out in the same group at school.
Older sister Janet said they often get mistaken for twins.
“My sister caught up to me when I was in fifth grade," she said. "Since then, we’ve always taken all of our classes together, went to school together, done extracurriculars together so being able to graduate together seems natural for us given that we’ve always done everything together."
The Liu sisters’ achievements don’t stop there. The sisters are accomplished piano players and the girls made it to the top spots in this week’s Walker’s Rising Stars competition in Pinellas County.
“Music has definitely been a big part of me and my sister’s lives," Melinda said. "We both started at 5 years old so I’ve been playing 10 years and my sister for 11 years."
That’s not all, Melinda was just honored as a Presidential Scholar, one of only nine in Florida and 161 nationwide to earn that honor this year.
Together, the girls have co-authored and published two economic books for teens and kids called Economics for Tweens (2020) and Elementary Economics (2021), both sold on Amazon. They also created the Wonderland Economics YouTube channel.
“Sibling power is very strong,” Janet said with a hearty laugh. “We realized wow, all these economics books and materials are at the high school level and above and we wanted to share our knowledge with younger students and publish our own books.”
When it came time to apply for college, the girls worried what would happen if one sister got into their top school and the other didn’t?
“That probably came up in family conversations a couple times every week because there is so much uncertainty,” Janet said.
Yet, on Melinda’s fifteenth birthday, the girls got the best surprise: they both got accepted into The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The sisters said going to separate schools was never an option for them.
“My sister is definitely a very important figure in my life we are best friends and being able to be in the same grade as her, I definitely look up to her and we learn a lot from each other,” Melinda said.
In the spirit of togetherness, Janet and Melinda Liu’s parents are packing their bags too and moving to Boston to continue inspiring their girls towards greatness.
The Liu sisters said they would never have been able to accomplish all of these goals without the support of their family members, parents, friends, teachers and school support staff.
“Age doesn’t show everything," Melinda said. "Younger people can also accomplish great things and go far. I also hope other siblings realize the power of working together and being able to collaborate."