Ulysses High School senior Braxton Moral sits for a portrait at the school in Ulysses, Kan., on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. The 16-year old is set to graduate from Harvard and high school in May 2019.
Sandra J. Milburn—The Hutchinson News/AP
By Alejandro de la Garza
Updated: January 1, 2019 2:20 PM ET | Originally published: December 30, 2018

Braxton Moral was deemed “really, really gifted,” from a young age. So gifted, it seems, that this spring the 16-year-old is expected to not only pick up his high school diploma, but a degree from Harvard, too.

The Kansas teenager is set to graduate from Ulysses High School on May 19, 2019, then attend university ceremonies on May 30 to receive his Harvard undergraduate degree, he confirms to TIME.

Since middle school, Braxton has been studying at the Harvard extension school, taking many of his courses online and attending classes on campus during summers in high school. He will graduate with an ALB (Bachelor of Liberal Arts) degree, having majored in government with a minor in English. The ALB is distinct from the Harvard’s BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree, which is granted by Harvard College.

He says he started taking the extra classes primarily as a way to challenge himself.

“I was very bored, unchallenged, or I guess that’s what they said,” Braxton says of his early college enrollment. “My mom always says I was depressed and not being stimulated educationally.”

Braxton’s father, Carlos Moral, told the Associated Press that he and his wife began to realize their son was extra-special when he was in the third grade.

“They told us: ‘You need to do something. He’s not just gifted. He’s really, really gifted,'” Carlos Moral said. Braxton’s school then decided to let him skip the 4th grade.

Braxton’s ambition does not end with earning a college degree before the age when most students graduate high school. He hopes to be admitted to Harvard Law School, and then to pursue a career in national politics.

“I just really want to be influential and change the world how I believe it should be changed,” Braxton says. “I’d like to solve problems for people.”

It’s a path his family support.

“I’ve had lots of people ask me why I would let him waste his smartness on being a politician,” Braxton’s mother, Julie Moral, wrote to the Hutchinson News. “I tell them that politicians change the world and that is what Braxton wants to do.”

Despite his achievements, Braxton is in many ways a normal kid. He hangs out with friends, sees movies, and plays video games like World of Warcraft. He certainly never thought that his achievement would garner so much attention.

“I never really anticipated any large response,” Braxton says. “I thought it would help me as a person improve.”

Still, Braxton’s accomplishments were self-motivated. He says that his parents were always there for him, but the drive to finish college and high school at the same time was his own.

“There’s certain parts of myself that I really have pride in,” he tells TIME. “I try to be as ambitious as I can be, and my parents are just really supportive.”

 

Correction, Jan. 1:

The original version of this story misstated the degree that Braxton Moral is pursuing.He is set to graduate with an ALB from Harvard Extension School, not a BA.

Write to Alejandro de la Garza at alejandro.delagarza@time.com.

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