D’Lorah Small’s Big Dreams

ODU grad, 18, eyes degrees in law, medicine

At a time when many other 18-year-olds are preparing for college and struggling over what they want to do with their lives, D’Lorah Small is already making her way in the real world – and even thinking about what degrees she wants to pursue next.

The December 2002 Old Dominion University graduate is currently putting her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering to use as a bridge inspector for the Virginia Department of Transportation. Small hopes eventually to be considered for an engineering position with VDOT.

One of the university’s youngest graduates ever, the Virginia Beach native had an IQ at the genius level when she was 3 years old. She received her diploma from Princess Anne High School at the tender age of 14 and an associate’s degree from Tidewater Community College at 16.

“I am the first in my family to graduate from college; that was a big inspiration for them,” Small told Jet magazine for a story in its Jan. 13 edition. “And now I have inspired the people I work with to go back to school. They felt they were too old to go back. And I said, ‘You are never too old to learn.’”

Or too young, she might have added. Despite the age differences between Small and her ODU classmates, she said she never felt uncomfortable or out of place at the university.

“Old Dominion is challenging and has a wonderful engineering program,” she noted. “The professors were the best. I took as many courses as possible from them. They were like encyclopedias full of information.”

Small thanks her mother and stepfather, Dafney Rose Kennedy and Albert Kennedy Jr., for their support and encouragement. She is also grateful to actors Tim Reid and Daphne Maxwell-Reid, longtime supporters of higher education, for her scholarship to attend ODU.

Looking ahead, the gifted teen says she plans to earn not only a master’s in engineering, but also a law degree and medical degree. She told Jet, “I am not sure what order I will do it, but I will earn all three degrees one day.”