July 7, 2012 — -- After scoring in the 99.9th percentile of standardized tests, discovering a supernova and helping in the discovery of an exoplanet, a 9-year-old boy is working toward his college degree.
At age 2, Tanishq Abraham could count from 1 to 100, and that's when his parents began to discover he was ahead of his peers.
They decided to have him tested, and Tanishq, merely 4 years old, was inducted into the Mensa genius society. He has published articles in the Peninsula Astronomical Society and contributes to Zooniverse, an online program for discovering and categorizing astronomy research.
Recently, he attended meetings and discussion panels at Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in order to ask experts about specific equations.
"Around 5 or 6 months old he started showing interest in books," said Tanishq's mother, Taji Abraham. "He would point and respond to the text. He could really understand what I was reading, but at the time I didn't know what was normal."
In kindergarten, Tanishq began the Stanford EPGY program for gifted students. He skipped first grade and began fourth- and fifth-grade math classes in the second grade.
He began an independent study program, attending Heron School two days a week while spending the remaining three days studying at home.
Now, Tanishq is homeschooled, but a teacher from the school keeps track of his progress. He also takes courses online and attends science and history classes in addition to giving guest lectures at American River College in Sacramento.
"He knows he's doing something good, but he doesn't realize how rare this is. He just loves learning. It's his passion," his mother said.
At age 7, Tanishq became one of the youngest children to attend the American River College after enrolling in an astronomy course.
Because California law requires children in collegiate theater programs to be registered students, the youngest child enrolled at the American River College, a 7-year-old, participated in the school's onstage productions. However, Tanishq is the youngest student at the school to take science courses.
Young students enrolling in college-level courses is not unheard of. The American River College said it had a 12-year-old student taking Calculus III last year, in addition to a 14-year-old and 21 15-year-olds who were taking college-level classes. However, the number of young students has never surpassed 40 in one semester at the college.
Tanishq's passion extends far beyond academics. Twice a week he makes a 90-minute commute to San Francisco to participate in the San Francisco boys choir, and he sang the national anthem at baseball games for the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's.
When his parents asked him whether he wanted to quit the choir, Tanishq teared up and answered no, explaining that he truly loves singing. He also spends time pursuing piano and various forms of art, most notably photography.
He recently received five honorable mentions for his art pieces in the California State Fair.
Tanishq loves spending time with other kids his age, bowling and table tennis. He loves biking, computer games and playing with his Nintendo Wii.
"We hear criticism [about Tanishq's accelerated education] all the time," his mother said, "and if you see people's comments, that's all they seem to care about. He enjoys being a child. He's just like any other 9-year-old boy who enjoys life."
Tanishq's passion for learning accounts for his various interests. His favorite subjects in school are science and history, but he has recently become interested in nutrition and politics.
He has been following both President Obama's and Mitt Romney's campaigns for the 2012 elections, and he loves to keep his family updated.
He is also being featured on PRODIGIES, on the new YouTube channel THNKR - produced by @radical.media.
When he grows up, Tanishq wants to be a doctor, scientist and president of the United States. He hopes Obama will give him advice for his future presidential career.
Tanishq's 6-year-old sister, Tiara, has also been inducted into Mensa. She's three or four years ahead of her peers and will skip from kindergarten to second grade, like her brother did. Her passions include literature, art, science and caring for animals.
It is unclear whether or not Tiara will continue the same educational path as her brother.
"From my experience, we just think that the public school system is really not capable of handling children like Tanishq," his mother said. "They have programs for all kinds of learning disabilities, but when it comes to children who are more advanced, there are no programs to support them."