Now, two years later, he's making history.
Next week, the teenager - who is now 15 - will be the youngest graduate to walk across the stage in the history of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.
"Every now and then, I'll get like a shocking reaction from someone, but most of my classmates are really accepting of me," he said. "They don't treat me as a kid, they treat me as an equal."
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After failing the third grade when a new learning system was introduced, Rico's family thought homeschooling would be a better fit for him. After three years, his mother, Ru Andrade, quickly realized how intelligent her son was.
"At 11, he was smarter than me," she said. "I knew that I had given him everything I had, and that he probably needed better teachers."
That's how he ended up in a program at Fullerton College. Rico easily passed the entrance exam and was enrolled the next day.
He graduated during the peak of the COVID pandemic with four associate's degrees - one in history, social sciences, arts and human expression, and social behavior.
Now, after pursuing a bachelor's degree in history at UNLV on a full scholarship, he's ready to graduate once again.
"It was kind of unbelievable at that point when my mom told me, I was like, 'You're joking. This is a funny joke,' but no, this was actually happening. When we first came here, I fell in love with the campus," said Rico.
So what's in store for his academic career after UNLV? The sky is certainly the limit.
"I don't really know," said Rico. "I want to get my master's, but I don't know what I want to get it in. I don't plan on getting it in history, so I want to audit some courses, discover some of my other interests and see what I want to do with my masters."
In case you're wondering, when Rico isn't studying, he's just like any other teenager. He enjoys hanging out with his family and friends and even taps into his inner creative by writing screenplays.
He's also a big fan of video games.