News / USA

Child Prodigy Finds College Admittance Elusive

Tanishq Abraham is seen speaking at the NASA Lunar Science Forum at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.
Tanishq Abraham is seen speaking at the NASA Lunar Science Forum at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.
He became a member of Mensa at age four. He gives talks at NASA. He’s homeschooled because regular class work doesn’t challenge him. Yet ironically, he cannot get into college as a full-time student.

That’s the predicament of Tanishq Abraham, a nine-year-old prodigy from Sacramento, California.

After several colleges turned him down because of his age, Tanishq and his parents began piecing together an education that includes homeschooling, spelling and science bees and, at last, some classes at American River College, a local community college.

“All of the classes are easy for me,” he said, chuckling. “I still read the books and materials they recommend so that I’m sure I know everything. I kind of do have that natural understanding, but I just want to make sure.”

Tanishq says he’s steamrolling through the science material, though he does admit language arts gives him some difficulty. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he has taken advanced college-level courses in astronomy, chemistry, geology, biotech, history and computer programming.

And while Tanishq keeps busy with a voracious appetite for learning, he says he still manages to squeeze in play time with friends his age and participates in a choir group. His mom, Taji, admits it’s a lot of work driving him around to his various activities.

“I do normal stuff kids my age do, like play,” he said, adding that he also has college friends, mostly from the astronomy club at American River College.  His mom says he also likes playing the piano (He gave a recital at age three.), tennis, table tennis, Wii games and watching TV.

Taji, a veterinarian, says she first thought something was unusual about Tanishq when he expressed interest in books as a baby.

“He was very curious what was in them,” she said. “He enjoyed listening when I’d read to him, and he’d grab the book and try to flip pages.”

Taji mentioned her observations to her husband Bijou, a computer programmer for underwater remotely operated vehicles, who suggested it was more a case of a new mom thinking her baby was the best.

But the evidence kept piling up.

“He became fascinated with clocks,” said Taji. “Around two [years old], he could read a clock and tell time.”

By four, Tanishq was accepted to Mensa, the world renowned organization for people of high intelligence. And by five, he was already speeding past his peers in reading comprehension.

“In a week or two he jumped to second-grade level books, joined the accelerated reading program and after a few months, he jumped to third and fourth grade level books, scoring about 95 percent on comprehension quizzes,” Taji said. “Now, he’s in the fifth grade but doing seventh grade English and eighth grade math through Stanford [University]’s online program for gifted children.”

Taji is quick to defend against those who say parents shouldn’t push their kids.

“People think the parents push the children and say we are not giving him a childhood,” she said. “That’s just not the case. He’s really enjoying his childhood. In fact, it’s the other way around. He has the passion and the drive to learn and do things. We just can’t stop him. At six, he Googled up everything to see what courses were being offered in Sacramento.”

According to Tanishq’s mom, it was her son’s idea to start taking college courses.

Tanishq was rejected from several higher education institutions before finally being given a chance to take a course at American River College where, at seven, he audited an advanced geology course. Stephen Sterling, the professor, had to convince other faculty members to allow a young child to attend classes.

“I told the dean, ‘You don’t get it,’” said Sterling. “‘He’s going to be done with a BA [Bachelor of Arts] at 11, and have a doctorate from Stanford at 16 or 17. Where’s he going to say he got his start?’”

Sterling says the dean was receptive but “rolled her eyes a bit.” Now, he says, everyone who’s met Tanishq “totally knows what he’s all about.”

The young prodigy initially had to be accompanied by his mom.

“I registered as a student, and he could come and read my materials,” said Taji. “He would study with me. We were like study partners. That’s how he learned geology. Then the professors realized he had so much potential, and so we went back to the college, and they allowed him to officially enrol.”

Since then, Sterling has taken Tanishq, who is still not a full-time student, under his wing.

“He got the highest score in the class,” Sterling said, adding that during the daily quizzes, he noticed Tanishq was peering at his mom’s papers and thought he might be looking for help.

“I didn’t really care because he was auditing,” he said.

Then, during the final exam, Sterling says he saw Tanishq again looking at his mother’s paper, but this time he heard Tanishq telling his mom she had something wrong.

“He’d been helping her the whole time, not the other way around,” Sterling said. “He got an A,” adding that it was amazing to read these highly developed, sophisticated test answers all in child’s handwriting.

Sterling can’t believe colleges and universities aren’t jumping at the chance to enrol Tanishq.

“If I was at Stanford, I’d be saying to the president, ‘We need to get this kid here.’” he said.  “‘By the time he’s 35, he’s going to be a billionaire and giving to our university.’”

Sterling says that in addition to being a great student, Tanishq is a very well liked member of the school community. He never shows off and is always willing to help his classmates.

And what does Tanishq want to do when he grows up?

“That’s simple,” he says. “A scientist, doctor or president of the United States. But I have to wait until around 2040, because I have to be 35 to become president.”

His vice presidential choice might end up being his younger sister, who also was accepted to Mensa at the age of four.

Below is an episode of the YouTube show "Prodigies" featuring Tanishq.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: riano baggy from: ina
August 22, 2012 10:47 PM
don't worry Tanishq still studying take open university it's no problem about your age.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid