Sixteen-Year-Old Earns Master's Degree at UVa

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

May 22, 2006

Thousands of University of Virginia students graduated over the weekend. One student may have stuck out, however. He is only 16-years-old. Child prodigy Gregory Smith not only graduated from UVA, but received his master's degree.

Gregory Smith is not your typical teen. At just 16, he has earned a master's degree in math from the University of Virginia. He is the youngest person ever to do so.

"It's just wonderful to be able to reach and learn about so many things that I've always loved," said Gregory.

The child prodigy breezed from the second through eighth grade in one year. He graduated from a Florida high school at nine, then received his bachelors degree from Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.

By 2003, he had started taking graduate classes at UVA.

"It was definitely different, but I've gotten used to being with people 7,8 years older than me since I was in high school and it's just part of my normal life," the teen said.

But it doesn't end there. Gregory is also the founder of International Youth Advocates, an organization aimed at promoting peace and understanding among youth worldwide.

"I've always felt that being able to go through college and education so quickly has been such an incredible gift. It's given me much an amazing opportunity to be able to spread these ideas that I've always found so important," said Gregory.

"His whole life has just spiraled into a reach and touch to countries and children and governments around the world, and that has been amazing to watch," said Gregory's mother, Janet.

Gregory has traveled to places such as Kenya and Brazil, and met many famous leaders and advocates. To top it off, the teen has been nominated four times for a Nobel Peace Prize.

"It's such an incredible, incredible honor," said Gregory.

Now the teen adds another accomplishment, one marked with an '06.

Gregory says he's taking the summer off to figure out what his next step is going to be. Most likely, that will include continuing his education. He adds that the summer may also include a trip to Venezuela.

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