18 year old teenager, Gabrielle Turnquest passed the “bar” exams to become UK’s youngest ever barrister. Turnquest who was born in the Caribbean nation of The Bahamas in 1995, follows in the footsteps of her mother who is an established lawyer.
Gabrielle’s mother, Patrice Smith-Bullard was not satisfied with the education available for Gabrielle and her five siblings so took matters into her own hands. She rented space in the building where she worked, hired a team of four teachers and started a mini school, complete with uniform especially for her children. The syllabus for her school which she called “Excelsior Academy”, was based upon the most effective aspects of the most successful educational institutions from around the world. Asked why she went to such great lengths for her childrens’ eductation Gabrielle’s mum replied,
“My aim was to have well-rounded individuals, academically and socially, emerge from this exercise,” Mrs Smith-Bullard said. “I endeavoured to give them tools to dream and wings to take flight into the realisation of those dreams, not necessarily with speed but [with] preparedness. I only allowed them as much as they could absorb, but Gabby was like a sponge.”
By the time Gabrielle returned to “normal school” aged 12, it was clear that her mother’s efforts had paid off since her children were miles ahead of the other pupils their age. By the age of 16 while finishing high school, Gabrielle became Liberty University, Virgina, USA’s youngest ever person to hold a degree after completing her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. At 17 years she passed her graduate diploma in law before “being called to the bar” after studying at the University of Law in London aged 18.
When asked why she decided on a career in law, Turnquest tells us that after completing her psychology degree, she was advised that her age would make the pursuit of her aspiration to become a councillor difficult. She said,
“Nobody wants to go to a teenage psychologist… I guess the same could be said for law, but it seemed as though there would be more opportunities to do behind-the-scenes work and the age thing would never come up.”
Being accepted into colleges to study law wasn’t straight forward for Gabrielle who had been turned down by a number of colleges due to her youth. To eventually get enrolled with the University of London, Gabrielle’s 22 year old sister, Kandi Turnquest who already attended the University, had to have legal guardianship of Gabrielle transferred to her.
Gabrielle Turnquest plans now to complete further training in apparel industry management which she hopes will lead to her becoming a fashion lawyer in the United States. When asked about how she feels to be the UK’s Youngest Ever Barrister she replied,
“I am honoured to be the youngest graduate student to pass the Bar exams in England and Wales and grateful to The University of Law for helping me achieve this milestone. Studying at the University of Law has broadened my horizons and introduced me to a global legal system that will help me in my future career in the international fashion industry.”