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  • Tanishq Abraham, 9, enjoys Friday's ceremony inducting him and other American River College students into Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

  • Nine-year-old Tanishq Abraham, center, joins fellow inductees Clinton Allison, left, and Umit Emin in taking the oath of membership for Phi Theta Kappa. Tanishq has attended ARC since he was 7. "I'm fine going to college classes, " he says. "I'm not scared of people older than me."

  • Hector Amezcua /

    American River College student Tanishq Abraham, 9, holds a rose he got Friday after being inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Tanishq has his photo taken with professors Jan Miller, Paulo Afonso and Steve Sterling.

ARC student welcomed into honor society -- at age 9

Published: Saturday, May. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 3:15 pm

Tanishq Abraham isn't your average college student.

At 9 years old, he is the youngest person to attend American River College since the institution began keeping records.

On Friday, Tanishq was honored by the school and formally inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society. About 80 people attended the ceremony, with several professors speaking highly of Tanishq's accomplishments.

"All educators love to have eager, enthusiastic students. Tanishq was no exception," professor Steve Sterling told the crowd. "He very enthusiastically sat in the front row of every class, partially because he couldn't see over everybody."

To get into the honor society, one must possess a minimum 3.5 GPA and 12 units. With 30 credits earned and a flawless 4.0 GPA, Tanishq plans to get his associate degree in the next two years, then transfer to a university for his bachelor's degree.

The young Sacramentan's stint in college started two years ago when, at age 7, he transferred out of the local public elementary school because he was too advanced. He enrolled part time at American River College, while his mother taught him core classes at home.

"They didn't want him on campus because he was too young," said Tanishq's mother, Taji Abraham, 45. "It was a big hurdle. Getting through the bureaucracy is the hard part."

The family had to convince school administrators of Tanishq's advanced aptitude. But as a part-time student, Tanishq said he doesn't get into the most popular classes and is petitioning the school to grant him full-time status.

Tanishq has high aspirations. When asked what he wanted to do as a grown-up, he replied, "I want to be a scientist, doctor and the president of the United States."

While talking to a reporter Friday afternoon, Tanishq rested his head on the table, visibly tired from his Thursday trip to San Francisco, where he sings in a boys choir.

"I'm fine going to college classes," said Tanishq, who was wearing a green camouflage shirt with red flannel pants. "I'm not scared of people older than me."

The Abraham family room is also Tanishq's classroom. Piles of books are stacked on the table. Trophies and plaques are in one corner. The wall is adorned with framed newspaper stories about the youngster.

For Tanishq, the learning never stops. His father, Bijou Abraham, said there are times when his son "needs to be restrained."

"He's always pushing," said Bijou Abraham, 46, a software engineer.

In two weeks, Tanishq will take the final exams for his microbiology and physics courses at ARC. This summer, he'll head to Indiana for a weeklong nanotechnology camp, usually aimed at high school students.

Still, being a prodigy has its downsides. Tanishq said people have written negative comments on his YouTube videos, but he doesn't mind.

"I'm not perturbed. These people are jealous of my talent," he said.

The intellectual gene clearly runs in the family. Tanishq's younger sister, Tiara Abraham, 7, is already agitating to take college classes.

"She likes to copy me a lot," Tanishq said as Tiara nodded.

Last fall, Tiara was pulled from public school to learn at home. Together, the siblings have a packed schedule. In addition to taking exams and reading books at home, they participate in numerous extracurricular activities.

"It's been a challenge raising the kids," Taji Abraham said. "This is my full-time job. It's not easy."


See more photos from the induction of Tanishq Abraham, 9, into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.

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