Age is just a number

TANISHQ ABRAHAM / COURTESY

14-year-old Tanishq Abraham set to graduate from UC Davis with biomedical engineering degree this spring

Most people at the age of 14 are concerned about entering their first year of high school, but 14-year-old Tanishq Abraham will be graduating from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

At the age of 7, Abraham began taking part-time classes at American River community college and then graduated from high school at the age of 10. The following year, Abraham started taking full-time classes at American River and graduated from the community college at 11 years old. Then a little over two years ago Abraham transferred to UC Davis where he began to pursue a biomedical engineering degree. Abraham explained why he chose Davis and biomedical engineering as his field of study.

“Because I am younger I didn’t have many options,” Abraham said. “So I couldn’t choose somewhere far away, but I also think UC Davis is a really good school and my mom was an alumni there.”

Biomedical engineering is known to be one of the hardest majors an undergraduate student can pursue. The field is diverse in the sense that it includes knowledge from science, engineering and math, which is the primary reason Abraham chose it. Unlike most students, Abraham found balancing the course load more challenging than the actual material itself.  

“I think the material wasn’t too difficult,” Abraham said. “It was more all the different assignments, homework and tests which can be a lot of work, but material-wise it wasn’t too bad.”

One of Abraham’s favorite courses at Davis was the differential equations class taught by his favorite professor, Professor Tavernetti. Some of his other favorite courses at Davis were biomedical electives such as biofluid mechanics and biophysics.

Aside from school, Abraham has also participated in numerous clubs on campus, his personal favorite being the Biomedical Engineering Society.

“The biomedical engineering club hosts many different fun activities like the make-a-thon,” Abraham said. “The make-a-thon is kind of like a hackathon but for engineering students students. We solve medical problems by building a device that could help solve the problem within a weekend. I did this for the part two years and I was one of the top competitors and second place in a couple of awards there, which was a fun experience.”

When he’s not studying, Abraham enjoys playing ping-pong, watching movies and using Twitter, which he uses to check the news and stay up-to-date on things going on in the world, including science and technology advancements, politics and pop culture.

“My Twitter handle is @iScienceLuvr,” Abraham said. “Twitter is my major hobby […] I like to tweet about science and technology online, different events, my day-to-day life, and it allows me to interact with my friends, fans and followers.”

Abraham’s impressive intellectual capability has been broadcasted on numerous platforms. Before attending Davis he was interviewed by Conan O’Brien as well as other national television hosts. The child genius has also spoken at a NASA conference and two TEDx Talks.

Since he started attending Davis, Abraham has also worked as a researcher in a lab. For the past two years Abraham has been working with artificial cells in Dr. Tan’s biomedical engineering lab. In addition to his research work, Abraham has also written a literature paper, which he has presented in four different conferences.

“We works with artificial cells which are not really cells,” Abraham said. “They are more like vesicles that are able to produce proteins, kind of like actual cells which are able to produce proteins, and we focus on using these cells for biomedical application. I’ve been working on mathematical models of the body and I’ve also been working on a literature paper that will be published pretty soon.”

At the age of 14, Abraham has accomplished more than most people accomplish during their time as an undergraduate. But being a college student at the age of 14 doesn’t come without its disadvantages.

“Being a 14-year-old has certain limitations, such as staying up at night or being on campus during the weekends,” Abraham said. “I can’t always do that, but sometimes other students in my classes might expect me to be there, but I have different limitations than them which is sometimes hard to understand.”

Both of Abraham’s parents have been dedicated to his education and have been driving him to and from school daily.

“My parents usually have to chauffeur me around,” Abraham said. “One of my parents will usually drive me to class, and I have class pretty much every day and some quarters I have class from 9 a.m.to 9 p.m. so my parents chauffeur me around during that time.”

With regard to the college-level teaching style, Abraham explained patterns he has noticed over the past two years.

“There are a lot of professors who are really good at research, but they aren’t really good at teaching,” Abraham said. “That’s just one example of how community college has its advantages in teaching styles. I really enjoyed my time at community college, but some of the professors here aren’t the best at teaching but are really good at research […] which is something that needs to be solved, we need more professors who are good at both research and teaching.”

However, one thing that Abraham hasn’t found particularly challenging is the social aspect of being a 14-year-old college student.

“I’ve been taking college classes with people who are older than me for seven to eight years now,” Abraham said. “I’m pretty much used to it, so it’s not too different for me. Outside of class, I like to hang out with my friends and study together.”

Abraham is set to graduate with a B.S. in biomedical engineering this spring, which he says is his proudest accomplishment.

“I’m really excited to be graduating,” Abraham said. “I think the fact that I’m going to be graduating from UC Davis at 14 years old in what I believe is one of the hardest majors out there is my greatest achievement.”

Starting next year, Abraham will continue to pursue his education in the biomedical engineering Ph.D. program here at UC Davis. Following the Ph.D. program, Abraham hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor, medical researcher and even someday become the president of the United States.

“I want to be a doctor so I can help people,” Abraham said. “I want to bring biomedical innovation to the clinic like new diagnostic and therapy tool to people who really need them. [And] I want to become president because I want to change the education system in America and I want to allow people to pursue they want. I faced a lot of challenges getting to the place that I am today and I know that there are a lot of smart kids out there who also face a lot of challenges and want to pursue an education who can’t.”

Abraham would like to thank his parents and his sister who have continually supported his journey over the past eight years.

 

 

Written by: Sneha Ramachandran — features@theaggie.org