16-Year-Old Kansas Boy Set to Graduate from High School and Harvard in the Spring

Braxton Moral, 16, is set to graduate from Ulysses High School in Kansas as well as Harvard University in the spring.
Sandra J. Milburn/The Hutchinson News, via Associated Press

In many ways, Braxton Moral seems a lot like other teenagers. Most days, he goes to sleep around 11 p.m. and wakes up around 7 or 8 a.m. He likes to play video games, particularly World of Warcraft. He hangs out with his friends and goes to the movies.

But the similarities between Braxton and most other teenagers end there.

In May, Braxton is set to graduate from high school in Ulysses, Kan., and, just days later, from Harvard University. He hopes the bachelor’s degree he earns will pave the way for admission to Harvard Law School in the fall and ultimately a career in national politics, and maybe one day, the presidency.

“I’ve been going to Harvard now half as long as I’ve been going to regular school, so it’s really become a part of my life,” Braxton, 16, said on Saturday. “To see the conclusion and the results and the rewards of that, it’s a really an exciting prospect for me.”

From the time he was in middle school, Braxton has been studying at Harvard’s extension school, mostly taking classes online. His concentration was in government, with a minor in English.

Early signs of Braxton’s advanced intellect came when he was a toddler, his mother, Julie Moral, said. She said the family would take him to his siblings’ school volleyball games and at the age of 2 or 3, he would sit in the bleachers and calculate the mathematical differences in the scores.

Still, Ms. Moral said they did not realize how advanced he was partly because Braxton was the youngest of four children. He has a brother who is 10 years older and two sisters 12 years older. When members of the Moral family had conversations, they would usually speak as adults and Braxton would blend right in.

Elementary school administrators alerted Braxton’s parents to his high test scores and he skipped fourth grade. It was exciting to experience Braxton’s intelligence, Ms. Moral said. But even as he progressed faster than other children, he also grew depressed.

While Braxton was still in elementary school, his parents were contacted by the Duke University Talent Identification Program, a nonprofit organization that helps gifted students.

“They said he was having existential depression,” Ms. Moral said. “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.”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Mihir Zaveri