By Javier Rojas
At the age of 13, Mexican-born teenager Dafne Almazán had already become the youngest psychologist in the world. That alone would give you a reason to pause and marvel at her accomplishments. However, Almazán has made history once again for her academic accomplishments. She is set to become the first person under 18 years old to be enrolled in a post-graduate degree at Harvard University in the last 100 years. She will be pursuing a masters degree in math education and is expected to finish her studies at Harvard after just one year.
Almazán is starting her next chapter to what has already been an incredible educational journey.
Her journey to Harvard began at a very young age. By age six, she learned how to read and write, at 10 she completed high school and after three years at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) she had a degree in psychology, which made her the youngest psychologist in the world.
Almazán is considered gifted and never studied in a traditional classroom. Her father, Asdrubal Almazán , who is a doctor, followed the “radical acceleration” method which means letting the child learn without any restrictions. This method helped Dafne reach her full potential and is credited with much of her intellectual successes.
Yet school isn’t the only thing on her mind. On her free time she plays the piano, teaches Mandarin to other children and even practices taekwondo.
“It’s not actually that hard, to be honest,” she told USA Today in 2015. “It’s not like getting up really early every day and staying up really late. I just try to organize my time as best as I can so I can do all the things I like.”
She is one of nearly 1 million children in Mexico who have this type of talent. Unfortunately many don’t reach their full potential.
According to a study by CEDAT, one of Latin America’s most important centers for the identification of gifted children, there are 1 million underage geniuses in Mexico but only 4 percent of them reach adulthood with the ability to put their abilities to use.
A private institution in Mexico City was started by Dafne’s father and her brother and sister are all former students there. CEDAT specializes in studying the child prodigy phenomenon and offers after-school courses.
CEDAT is vital for children like Almazán who are sometimes either not supported or often times bullied because of their gifted talents.
Unfortunately, Mexico’s education system ranks last among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the same CEDAT’s study, it shows that Mexico doesn’t have enough resources to identify and give gifted pupils the correct path to success .
This is why Almazán wants to teach and keep students in the country to help push Mexico forward.
Despite her psychology degree, she won’t be treating any patients in the near future. After she finishes her degree at Harvard, Almazán wants to return and teach math among other skills in Mexico. She understands many of the stresses and problems many gifted children like herself face on a day-to-day basis. Education is important to her but so is giving back. Whatever she sets her mind to, we’re sure she can make it happen
“I know it’s hard to reach and guide all gifted children in Mexico, but I’m optimistic that we’ll eventually be able to do so,” she says. “I always wanted to go to college, and I managed to achieve it too.”
The First Minor to be Accepted Into A Post-Graduate Program at Harvard
By Javier Rojas