This past Sunday, 17-year-old Braxton Moral graduated from high school in Ulysses, Kansas. At the end of this month, he’s graduating from Harvard, and hopes to start law school.
“When I was younger, school got a little boring for me,” he told CNN. “I needed to stimulate my education, stimulate growth.”
That he certainly did. When he was 11, Braxton started taking classes at Harvard’s extension school — online and, during the last few summers, on campus in Cambridge. Good Morning America reported that he’s taken mostly government classes and hopes to enter politics.
“I’m relieved to have a little bit of a head start,” Braxton told GMA. “I thought it really broadened my horizons. It helped me understand new things and what I want to do [in life].”
Kevin McGrath, an associate professor in South Asian Studies at Harvard University, told GMA the teen is “a remarkable and unique young scholar.”
“Intellectually, he is extraordinary, but more than that, it is his discipline and endeavor which has enabled him to begin adult life with such startling success,” said McGrath.
His mother, Julie Moral, told the New York Times that her son’s outstanding intellectual abilities became evident around the age of 2 or 3. At his older siblings’ volleyball games, the toddler “calculated mathematical differences in the scores,” the Times reported.
One of Braxton’s sisters, Brittney Jo Segar, 29, told GMA she first noticed her baby brother’s outsized intellect around 18 months. “He always said big words and was different,” she said.
After skipping fourth grade and continuing to blossom intellectually, Braxton also became depressed. The Duke University Talent Identification Program pinpointed his problem.
“They said he was having existential depression,” his mother told the Times. “It’s where you’re like, ‘What’s my purpose? Is there a God?’ It’s something that most people have — a midlife crisis. He had it like, in fifth grade.”
The Duke program suggested Harvard Extension, reported the Hutchinson News. Through Braxton’s Harvard courses, he discovered his passion for politically related studies. He’s also found inspiration from the entrepreneur Elon Musk and ultimate fighter Conor McGregor, the Times reported.
Braxton has written a book about his experiences, Harvard in the Heartland, with hopes to attend Columbia University’s law school to study constitutional law.
He told GMA his advice to other kids and teens is to explore what you are interested in as early as possible. His mother’s advice? “I told him, he can do whatever he wants,” Julia Moral told the Times, “as long as he changes the world and makes it better.”
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