| 4°C Dublin

Lifelong student becomes doctor, aged 21

A 21-year-old Chicago man who began college at age nine and medical school three years later is about to become the youngest student ever awarded an MD by the University of Chicago.

Sho Yano, who was reading at age two, writing at three and composing music at five, will graduate this week from the Pritzker School of Medicine, where he also received a PhD in molecular genetics and cell biology.

Mr Yano earned his undergraduate degree from Loyola University aged 12, finishing in three years. The average age of students entering medical school in the US is 23, and there were schools that refused Mr Yano admittance because of his age. School officials worried that the rigours of medical school would hinder Mr Yano's ability to have a normal adolescence.

"I never understood that," Mr Yano said. "Why would being allowed to challenge yourself be considered more damaging than being totally bored?"

The University of Chicago admitted Mr Yano in 2003.

The school made some accommodations because of Mr Yano's age.

Unlike most students, who begin their PhD training after their second year of medical school, Yano began his after his first year. That way, he was about 18 when he began his second year of studies toward his MD, which includes interacting with and examining patients.

Mr Yano said he hopes his graduation will silence those who questioned his developmental aptitude when he entered medical school.

He is currently preparing for his residency in paediatric neurology.

"I really liked not just taking care of kids, but the way the whole team worked together," he said.

Mr Yano has been a college student for 12 years, but it's only recently that he looks as if he belongs, blending in with students in a Hyde Park, Chicago coffee shop.

The wisecracks that come with being a college pre-teen have passed, and Mr Yano is looking forward. The University of Chicago holds its graduation on Saturday.

"I am living my dream," he said.

Irish Independent