She is the youngest person to be called to the bar in 600 years and at just 18, Gabrielle Turnquest has already become used to questions about her age. By 12 she was ahead of her classmates. She started her first degree at the age of 14, graduating two years later on the day she also graduated from high school. “I guess it feels really good to have a law degree,” she says, “rather than the age part of it.”

Not many people knew how young Turnquest was at the University of Law, where she was studying with her 22-year-old sister. Most of the other students were in their mid-20s, although there were much older people too.

I think once people figured it out, there was shock,” she says, “I think that we had assumed that I was the youngest but there hadn’t been any confirmation. Then it was all over with and we got back to studying.”

Turnquest is the third of six children. Are they all high achievers? “We try to be,” she says with a laugh. Their mother can take much of the credit for their academic success. A lawyer from Nassau in the Bahamas, she moved the family there from Florida when Turnquest was a child. Deciding the school system wasn’t challenging enough for her bright kids, she spent several months researching curriculums from around the world, looking at which countries were doing best in which subjects and why.

Then she turned all that into her own educational plan, rented space in her office building, hired teachers and enrolled her children on to a programme she named Excelsior Academy. She even made a school uniform for them.

Turnquest insists there wasn’t any pressure to excel. In fact, she says, because she wasn’t comparing herself to her peers, she didn’t really know what was expected of her. She just soaked up as much information as she could take, regardless of what age range it was aimed at. “My mother never gave us the impression that we were expected to complete everything,” she says.

When Turnquest was 12, the family moved back to the US and the children went back to schools. By this time she was far ahead of her classmates.

When she got to high school the following year, she was able to take more advanced courses and she started a degree in psychology when she was 14. Turnquest’s university classmates knew she was still a high-school student, though most assumed she was a senior (around 17).

When a mentor suggested she might not be taken seriously as a counsellor at such a young age, Turnquest thought about what to do next. Her sister had applied to study law in London and she thought this would be a good next step. “I guess the same could be said [about her age] for law, but it seemed as though there would be more opportunities to do behind-the-scenes work and the age thing would never come up.”

Although she could have stayed in the UK and become a barrister, she now plans to work as a lawyer in the fashion industry – she starts an apparel industry management course in the autumn, while studying for the multistate bar exams.

So, does she ever feel that she has missed out on anything, that she has moved too fast? “I guess I missed out on going to university with the people I knew before, but I’ve met a great group of people going to university the way I did. I now have this time to figure out what I’m going to do next and I already have a degree, so I have more opportunities open to me. I honestly don’t think I’ve missed out. I don’t think there was anything I could have done at 15 or 16 that I can’t do now – just with a law degree.”





About Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez

Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Romania, Malta and Nigeria and has visited over 22 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for over five years in a row He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World
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