Portrait of Charmaine Chui, 16, youngest law student in ASU Law history.

16-year-old charts her own path at ASU Law


Julie Tenney

Charmaine Chui doesn’t like to be told no.

And for the 16-year-old law school student – the youngest in the history of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University – that mantra has served her well.

“I think that’s been a recurring theme in my life – I don’t like being told what I have to do or what I can’t do,” Chui says, as she looks forward to finding a career that she enjoys and where she can make a difference.

Homeschooled at a young age, thanks to a decision by her mom to pull her out of the local elementary school when she saw that Chui was unhappy and bored with the program, Chui was able to pursue what truly inspired her intellectually.

Taught by her mom, Chui was soon diving into British literature and mythology, and other classes she wanted to take, instead of being limited to only math and English and other mandatory subjects.

The experience helped her not only regain her love of school, but led her to want to pursue early college programs at the age of 9. Yes – 9 years old.

“I was at the rink,” recalls Chui, a former competitive ice skater, “and a friend of mine told me about this program, and it almost sounded unreal – she was telling us she got to pick her own schedule, her own classes … and it sounded really cool so I went running to my mom – ‘Mom, I really want to go!’”

But her mom didn’t think she was ready yet, so at the age of 12, Chui entered California State University, Los Angeles, backed by the firm belief her parents instilled in her: “If you want to do something – if you really want it – you can go and do it. There’s nothing you can’t do – other than, perhaps, fly.”

Chui graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and criminal justice with summa cum laude honors from Cal State LA in spring 2021. She is now pursuing a Juris Doctor at ASU Law with a full scholarship and designation as an O’Connor Fellow.

She is one of the youngest graduates in Cal State LA’s class of 2021.

Hear more from Chui in this ASU video interview.


Video of Meet Charmaine Chui, ASU's youngest law student: Arizona State University (ASU)