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This Regent Alumna and Young Genius Got Her MBA at 16

Regent Alumna, Dr. Thessalonika Arzu-Embry

Multi-talented. Whiz kid. Sky-high IQ. PhD. Published author. Licensed pilot. Dr. Thessalonika “Tessa” Arzu-Embry has many middle names. A born genius and go-getter from an early age, this young woman earned a high school diploma at 11—an age when most kids are just starting middle school. Just a few years later, at 14, the prodigy already had a bachelor’s degree in psychology and was making national headlines left and right.

By the time Tessa was old enough to qualify for her driver’s license at 16, she’d already earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Regent University and found the time to publish multiple books. She started her program in September 2014 and was able to complete it just eight months later. Most of her classmates were twice her age.

“That degree is to help businesses prepare for the trends that will impact them in the future,” Tessa matter-of-factly told CBN News in a 2015 interview, shortly before her graduation that year.

“We had a lot of offers from different schools, but we felt the Lord leading us to go to this school,” she stated. “It has that environment of the word of God being taught there, and that’s what we like.”

“It was really an easy choice to let go of the ivy leagues and come to the ivy league of the kingdom of God,” her mother chimed in.

But Tessa was far from finished with her academic journey, going on to earn a Ph.D. in aviation psychology, publish more books, and even attend a few professional speaking engagements to inspire others.

One of her more successful books offered tips for condensing one’s education and accelerating the learning process—a topic she understood all too well. 

“Nowadays, there are more opportunities and initiatives to help people finish college, and that’s because there are a lot of working adults who don’t have the time to sit in a classroom,” she said in an interview with the Suffolk News-Herald. “If a person can show they have already earned that knowledge elsewhere, then they don’t have to sit in a classroom for four months. It would save them a lot more time, money, and energy.”

The card-carrying Mensa members have also written on diverse topics such as financial investing, global injustice, real estate, and book publishing.

Having grown up in a military family, Tessa credits part of her early drive and ambition to the strict discipline she was instilled with. Her interest in aviation stems from her father, an Air Force veteran with a background as a private pilot at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. She was homeschooled, and with the family moving around so much, she found herself prioritizing her studies.

Dr. Thessalonika Arzu-Embry and her Parents.

“I think my parents did a great job of teaching me a lot and making everything a learning experience,” she told the Suffolk News-Herald. “When we travel somewhere, we learn about the area we’re traveling to. Growing up, they made everything a learning opportunity. I’m appreciative of them for that, and I thank God for that.”

Despite having a full schedule of writing, working on high-level courses, getting her pilot’s license, developing apps, and speaking, Tessa bucked the stereotype attached to most “genius kids” and still found time to socialize with other teens through her church’s youth ministry.

She told the Chicago Maroon that she believes anyone can be a genius as long as they stay humble.

“A genius is someone who makes wise choices in their life, and they are not proud. If they are proud, they are not geniuses. That’s what I think,” Tessa stated.

Gaining multiple educational credentials at such an early age is not easy, and to help others also become trailblazers, Tessa and her family created the Jump the Education Barrier program.

They also operate the Thessalonika A. Embry University (DoD Warfighter Institution of Fort Carson, CO), or TAEU for short. The family established the university in 2021, making Tessa perhaps the youngest university founder in American history.

Students have the opportunity to take a variety of courses in areas that include wealth cultivation, learning and pedagogy, human philosophy, and air and space science and earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees. TAEU caters to U.S. Army soldiers and DoD personnel and has accreditation through the National Association of Alternative Military Schools and Colleges. 

On her personal website, Tessa states that her personal mission is “to improve quality of life and reduce costs and time related to the pursuit of higher education.”

For Dr. Thessalonika, the sky is truly the limit.

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