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A college graduate already, 18-year-old earns her MBA

PITTSBURGH -- Jessica Meeker is not your average MBA. She's a black-clad, punk rock fanatic whose hair has seen more colors than the average rainbow.

She's also 18, and yesterday she became the youngest student ever to receive a master's degree in business administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, an independent college in Indiana, Pa.

She's not caught up in being a prodigy, though.

''It just feels so good to finally be done," Meeker said. ''I have been in college for so long."

At age 12, Meeker became the youngest student to enroll at Pennsylvania State University and, at 16, she was the youngest to earn a bachelor's degree there, majoring in psychology.

Being a young teenager at a huge university wasn't easy.

''I was a little kid," she said. ''Everyone was like, 'What's she doing here?' "

But Meeker eventually thrived, enjoying coffee shops and dorm life with her older peers.

Frank Meeker, 49, and Leigh Meeker, 46, always knew their daughter was smart -- she could spell at 18 months.

In first grade, after repeatedly complaining that she was bored, she was given an IQ test and scored in the 99.7 percentile, her mother said.

Meeker's parents took her out of the public school system and taught her at their home in Bellefonte, in the state's center.

Leigh Meeker said she is proud of her daughter, though watching her grow up has been bittersweet.

''She's going to get her own place and not be our little girl anymore," her mother said. ''She's an adult now, and she's going to go out on her own."

What Meeker will move on to, however, is an open question.

She said she's considering getting a doctorate in psychology. She hasn't received any job offers.

The director of the MBA program, Krish Krishnan, predicted that Meeker would be successful at a company with younger management and an unorthodox style or at a firm that targets its products to teens.

''She knows her accounting, finance, marketing, and business law," Krishnan said. ''And she has a mind-set and direct connect to those kind of businesses."

Meeker joked that she would rather work someplace like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

''I'm addicted to sugar and Mountain Dew, and everyone tells me you should work in something you like," she said.

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