At 8, most kids are learning the names of planets in the solar system. Not Tanishq Abraham. "I like particle physics and contemplating the fate of the universe," he says.
Tanishq, whose name means " jewel" in Sanskrit, was admitted to American River College (ARC) at age 7 and is the youngest student ever to attend ARC.
ThnkrTV featured Tanishq, the eldest of two children, on the July 2 premiere episode of "Prodigies," a new bi-weekly YouTube series "showcasing the youngest and brightest as they challenge themselves to reach new heights," the show description says.
Since that time, the video has also reached new heights; going viral and racking up over 83,000 views and counting as of July 5.
American River Current says Tanishq was born in Sacramento on June 10, 2003 to parents Bijou Abraham, a software engineer, and Dr. Taji Abraham, a doctor of veterinary medicine.
"At around 2 and 1/2, I had the feeling he was gifted," Tanishq's mom told News10.
At first, her husband dismissed the comment.
Well, of course you do, she remembered him saying, "all moms think their children are the best."
But there was something different about Tanishq. Not every kid can count from 1 to 100 –– when they're 2 years old.
At age 4 1/2, Tanishq's parents had him tested, and he scored in the 99.9 percentile on the standardized intelligence test (of course he did!), and was inducted into MENSA – an organization for people with an IQ of 148 and above, or in the top 2% of the population.
It should be no surprise that Tanishq skipped first grade, since he was doing 4th and 5th grade math, getting bored in class.
But soon traditional schooling could no longer accommodate Tanishq's advanced learning needs. Tanishq's mom decided to put her veterinary profession on hold and took the responsibility upon herself to home-school both children.
It runs in the family. His little sister, Tiara, now age 6, followed her big brother's footsteps by becoming a member of Mensa at age 4 scoring in the 98.8 percentile.
Tanishq goes to college
“He’s a real asset,” said Professor Stephen Sterling who was Tanishq's physical geology instructor. “He’s the top student. The students love him and look up to him because they respect him (as they would) a peer.”
In fact, it was Sterling who helped him gain entrance to ARC. He first met the precocious youngster in the fall of 2010, when Abraham accompanied his mother to the earth science course that he taught, The Current reports. It wasn’t long before Abraham wanted more of this college experience and asked to take the class quizzes, too.
"People think we want all these things, but it's his passion. This is what he loves," mother Taji Abraham said.
His father agreed, Fox 40 reports. "A typical comment is that we are really pushing him," laughed his father Bijou. "He's pushing us."
This might sound hard to believe, until you read Tanishq's blog. Here's one example from earlier this year:
Today I helped planet hunters, an online site where users can help find exoplanets(planets outside our solar system and orbiting other planets: www.planethunters.org). I did that for about an hour. I then went and learned, did my home-school work (language arts & pre-algebra). Also today was the day I had to go to Physics college class in ARC... I came back and started to read a IEEE spectrum magazine, the old ones from my dad's subscription. I love to read the articles there.
Then had dinner and went to sleep, which I hate to do .
After a visit to see the NASA space shuttle launch in Florida over the summer, NASA's Lunar Science Institute published his account of the event. Here's a snippet:
I recently joined Peninsula Astronomical Society (PAS). My parents gave the junior membership as a gift to me for doing well in a college astronomy class. It was so cool to see the colliding galaxies, Sombrero galaxy (spiral), M31 (spiral) galaxy, a few NGC galaxies, elliptical galaxies, and Saturn with its rings.
Yet the criticism isn't unwarranted. Last year, The Sacramento Bee wrote:
Ranking high and scoring well is important to them. The parents have put together a six-page résumé spelling out Tanishq's seven years of achievements and a five-page résumé outlining Tiara's five years of accolades. Their piano lessons include an annual exam at California State University, Sacramento.
But Tanishq is still a child. And part of him hungers for more friends his age, as any child would. So his parents try to involve him in activities that include other boys his age.
Tanishq for president
"Wherever they feel their interest is, that's where we want them to go," said Bijou Abraham, Tanishq's father. "We don't want to hold them back."
This becomes apparent when asked what he wants to be when he grows up.
"I really want to be a scientist or a president," Tanishq pauses a beat, then clarifies that he means becoming the "President of the United States."
What would he do as president?
"I'll make the United States more healthy for us and more efficient," Tanishq says.