Kiavash and his older sister, who also came to campus at the age of 12, are the youngest students to enroll at UC Berkeley in at least 17 years, according to campus data.
Six years younger than most freshmen, Kiavash divvies up the time in his 18-hour days among some of the most challenging undergraduate courses on campus. In chemistry, biology and physics, his test scores have placed in the top 1 percent of the class. With community college credits, he has earned enough units to rank among juniors. He plans to take only two years to graduate with a degree in molecular and cell biology and a minor in bioengineering.
And after his fifth-grade graduation, Kiavash skipped middle school altogether.
Following multiple assessment tests that placed him at a 10th-grade level, he enrolled in Venture School in San Ramon for independent study to finish the high school classes he could not test out of. He also took courses he could use to transfer to UC Berkeley — following in the footsteps of his older sister, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree at the age of 14.
At the end of the day, Kiavash plays video games and gets scolded for spending too much time in front of the TV. Last year, he toured the world as a member of the national youth judo team, and during breaks from school, he likes to ski and play tennis with his family.
And for now, he sits at a desk surrounded by his classmates, leaving the worrying to his parents.
“As long as he doesn’t miss being a kid, I think he will be fine,” his mother says.