Don’t be fooled by the braces. Ephraim Sy Palmero III really is a college graduate, though he’s only 17.

Palmero earned his Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice from Tidewater Community College last May. He will transfer to Regent University this fall where he will work toward a bachelor’s in law and national security.

Palmero started at TCC as a 15-year-old, graduating at that age from high school in the Philippines. He moved regularly given his family’s commitment to humanitarian medicine. His father is a physician and his mother, a pediatric research clinician. The family lived everywhere from the Philippines to Liberia to Alaska before settling in Virginia Beach, which prompted Palmero to enroll at TCC.

He felt comfortable immediately among a student body of diverse ages, noting, “Everybody assumed I was 18 or 19.”

Ephraim Sy Palmero III with his parents on graduation day

Palmero initially followed a nursing path but quickly realized he preferred the law and international affairs after enjoying classes taught by Professor Richard Holtz. Holtz, a former Marine, FBI agent and attorney, brings real-world experiences into the classroom with the law, criminal justice and counter terrorism classes he teaches.

“He was an amazing student,” Holtz said. “He was very mature for his age and liked by his fellow students in my classes. He will go far fast, for sure. Heck, maybe president – maybe not. He has to wait until he is 35 years old!”

While at TCC, Palmero was a senator in student government, appeared on the Presidential Honor Roll and was vice president of service of the Virginia Beach Psi Upsilon chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.

After college, Palmero would like a career in law, the State Department, Foreign Service, the CIA or the United Nations. He feels well prepared for what Regent will offer given the confidence and grades he achieved at TCC, noting, “I’ve already been going to college for two years, so I know I can do well.”
 

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