NC student started college at 12, now has Ph.D at 23

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) A 23-year-old in North Carolina, who started college when she was 12, just earned a Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Nadine Nepper and her ex-husband knew their daughter, Julia, was gifted at an early age.

“We didn’t think she was being challenged enough,” said Nepper who was remembering a time when the family lived in Burgaw. “It was suggested if we wanted her to excel, we’d have to pull her out and homeschool her,” said Nepper.

That is what the Neppers did for four years, and their hard work paid off.

Julia was just 12 years old when she began her higher education at Cape Fear Community College.

She went on to get her associates degree at 14, her bachelor’s degree from UNCW at 16 and now her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at 23.

“Most of the people I’ve met, in my life, could have done what I did if they had the right support,” Julia said. “I don’t fault my parents, pushing me, with regards to my education. Clearly, I could handle it and it worked. So they must have done something right.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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