(LOS ANGELES) — At an age when most teenagers are barely surviving homeroom, 14-year-old Moshe Kai Cavalin is debating between courses in astrophysics and theoretical physics as he works towards his second college degree.
After first graduating from East L.A. Community College at age 11, Moshe is preparing to graduate from UCLA this year with a degree in math alongside students nearly a decade his senior. In spite of the age difference, Moshe says his fellow students have been supportive after he proved he could do the same work.
“At first they were really curious, what am I doing there?” Moshe told ABCNews.com. “[Then] they started being like big brothers and big sisters.”
Moshe says now he prefers to spend time with his schoolmates rather than peers his own age. “We talk about [life] and studies and all the material in class,” said Moshe.
However, in spite of his early accomplishments, Moshe says he’s does not want to be solely defined by his intellect. “Genius is just a word just like IQ is a number,” Moshe told ABC affiliate KABC-TV. “It just classifies [them] at one point and ignores everything else that makes the individual who they are.”
Moshe’s mother, Suichen Chein, said that she realized her son’s need for more demanding material when he started reading college-level books at age two.
“He’s a happy kid and he’s learning so well,” Chien, who chaperons Moshe to class, told KABC-TV. “He’s doing a fantastic job by himself.”
Moshe’s father, Joesph Cavalin, said that he realized his son’s potential one afternoon, when he was picking him up after class.
“I saw him outside, he was tutoring the mother of another kid,” Joesph said. “It was fantastic, I almost cried that day.”
Joesph said he decided his son needed to be put in advanced classes after his teachers said Moshe’s academic needs would disturb the other children.
“Why should I be worried about that?” said Joesph. “I don’t worry about the others. I worry about my family.”
Eventually Moshe was enrolled at East L.A. Community College at age 8, but he bristles at the idea that he was forced into his advanced studies.
“Well most people say that my parents pushed me,” said Moshe. “However, I think happiness in childhood is more importantly passed on [through] loving parents and a creative environment.”
As Moshe preps for life after graduation, he says there are a few items he wants to cross off his bucket list this summer including scuba diving and practicing to get his driver’s license. Unfortunately for Moshe–in spite of his two degrees–he will still have to wait until he’s 16 to get his license.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Heather Kelly, CNN
ABC 13 KTRK
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN