Salenah (Selena) Cartier just became the youngest person to graduate from the University of Houston
this year. The 17-year-old Texan earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the UH College of
Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She will also receive a certificate in Corporate Entrepreneurship from
C.T. Bauer College of Business.
After going between homeschooling and public education between elementary and middle school,
Cartier decided on homeschooling after the 6th grade. She told Because Of Them We Can that she
needed to be challenged academically and faced bullying due to her advanced academic achievements.
Once she was able to work from home and begin a self paced program she ran through the course work.
“At the age of 14, I just knew that college was the next step for me. I needed a new challenge, and
attending college presented the perfect academic and social growth opportunity for me,” she said.
The young scholar then received her high school diploma and took dual credit classes at Lone Star
College-Kingwood. She graduated with an associate of science degree then transferred to UH. Cartier
excelled in school while overcoming financial struggles due to being one of four children raised by a
single parent. To pay for the bulk of her school expenses, she used ingenuity, selling used textbooks on
eBay that she found in thrift stores and online.
Cartier said in a statement that she was always motivated to find ways to “feed her brain,” which was
instilled by her mother. She credits her for teaching the importance of self-worth, creativity and
following your dreams regardless of age.
“My mom would always say you have to figure out what you want to do in life and how you want to
make an impact on the world,” she said in a statement.
She plans to continue her education, pursuing her master’s degree in the College of Education’s
Curriculum and Instruction program at UH. And is in the process of applying to doctoral programs. She
said she wants to become become a researcher, college level educator, and policy maker to help all
those seeking education, regardless of socio-economic status, know that “anything is possible.”
“After I complete the masters program, I will teach college level courses while attending a doctoral
program. I would like to research the impact that early life exposure to adversity has on cognitive
development”, she told Because Of Them We Can. “I hope that my achievements are able to inspire
[people] of all ages. It is never to early or late to pursue a goal. There will never be a perfect time to start
a journey, but if you want to succeed, you just have to start. As long as you maintain an open mindset,
you will learn on every step of the journey”