Anthony Mercado is too young to drive a car and, for that matter, to shave the peach fuzz from his face.
Yet he will graduate next month from Carson High School, after completing all of his required courses – plus a year-and-a-half worth of college – in only two years. And in the fall, Mercado will enter UCLA as a 15-year-old sophomore on a full scholarship.
Humble and soft-spoken, Anthony remains modest about his academic achievements, values he learned from home. When it comes to his classroom experience, what he would share with other students is setting high-expectations for themselves. This is what he calls his key to success.
“The lessons I learned in high school were trying your best in classes,” Mercado said, taking a mid-morning break from his studies. “I see some students striving to get a ‘B’ or a ‘C’ and lowering their expectations so they don’t have to deal with failure, but it’s best to try to get an ‘A’ in every class.”
Growing up, Mercado learned at a very young age what motivated him. For him it was fear of failure.
As a 6-year-old, Mercado recalled, his parents gave him a lot of basic math problems to solve at home, and he realized that he excelled with numbers. His father, after all, taught math at Bell High School. But when he was turned down for a gifted program at school in the third-grade, he learned that to do his best he had to work even harder.
By sixth grade, he began taking entry-college-level classes. He skipped seventh grade and, in eighth grade, completed his high school math requirements. He spent ninth grade at a high-performing magnet school in Long Beach Unified. That school did not accept some of his credits. credits, and he returned to L.A. Unified, where he previously attended Catskills Avenue Elementary and Stephen White Middle School.
What’s more, his two older siblings, who also graduated from Carson High after only two years, set a standard for him to follow. Maybe for that reason, he feels at ease about his decision to finish high school early, and leaves behind no regret. He attended prom this year, and has met many students, and says, “I’m still getting the full experience.”
Mercado has fond memories of staff he met at Carson High, especially Principal Windy Warren and college counselor Lisa Engel. He credits both for helping him fulfill his high school requirements in the least time possible, and gain college credits.
“We are all so proud of Anthony,” Dr. Warren said. “It has been a pleasure getting to know him and supporting him in his aspirations, and a joy to have him with us at Carson. We are excited for Anthony’s future and look forward to hearing great things about him.”