Teen creates history as youngest graduate from Sam Houston State University

Posted at 2:15 PM, Aug 08, 2022

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Nehemiah Juniel has officially made history as Sam Houston State University’s youngest graduate.

Juniel crossed the stage and earned his bachelor’s in health sciences. His parents Corie and Raphael Juniel said their hearts are bursting at the moment.

“We’re just excited,” said Corie Juniel, Nehemiah’s mom. “I don’t know any other word to say but excited, elated, like he said our hearts are bursting when we heard his name being called. He’s 15 so it’s a really big deal for us.”

His dad, Raphael Juniel said he’s looking forward to what’s next for Nehemiah.

“Just uber proud, uber excited that this is just one more milestone he can add to his book of life and just ready to get the next part of the plan going,” said Raphael Juniel, Nehemiah’s dad.

As Nehemiah prepares to study for the MCAT, Dr. John Cooke with Houston Methodist Research Institute said he’s hoping Nehemiah will come to join him for research after he saw Nehemiah’s story on KRHD News.

“Diamond, I saw your nice piece on Nehemiah, and it intrigued me because you know here is this 15-year-old boy who’s graduating from college and that’s amazing in itself,” said Dr. Cooke.

Nehemiah said he was shocked to hear Dr. Cooke was interested in learning more about him.

“That’s an incredible feeling, truthfully,” said Juniel. “Honestly, I was kind of surprised that he was so open and ready for that.”

Dr. Cooke was happy to know Nehemiah wants to become a cardiologist, as they both found interest in the career at a young age.

“And I found it very interesting that he was interested in cardiology,” said Dr. Cooke. “Being a cardiologist myself and a scientist, I was interested to talk to him to see if there was something I could do to help him in his career.”

Nehemiah said he’s overjoyed to be recognized by Dr. Cooke.

“I know with me being so young it’s hard to believe,” said Juniel. “‘Will he be ready for it?’ Having someone as highly known as Dr. Cooke, being welcomed to come study under him is a great feeling.”

Dr. Cooke said the research program includes clinical hours and basic science, giving students the fundamentals for which he thinks Nehemiah would be great.

“It’s a nice little community and we’re very productive and happy and we feel good about the work we’re doing where we’re trying to contribute something to humankind,” said Dr. Cooke.

As for funding, Dr. Cooke said they are multiple ways a student’s tuition can be covered in the program.

“There’s philanthropy,” said Dr. Cooke. “There’s federal funding. There’s state funding. We work on those different avenues to fund our students so we can get their training.”

Dr. Cooke encourages Nehemiah to absorb all that he can during this time before going to medical school.

“Nehemiah has got a great career ahead of him,” said Dr. Cooke. “Right now, what he wants to do is fill his tool belt with as many technologies and techniques that he can and be very open, broad, in his acquisition of ideas.”

Dr. Cooke said he is looking forward to meeting Nehemiah and his family later this month as they will go to tour the facility and learn more about the research program.