Age is nothing more than a number

At age 17, CLASS undergraduate is youngest person graduating at UH Spring 2016 Commencement

Ms. Medvedeva

While most of her contemporaries are preparing for junior proms and SAT tests or senior skip days and high school graduations, 17-year-old Angela Medvedeva is graduating from college – with two degrees.

The youngest person graduating during the University of Houston Spring 2016 Commencement, Medvedeva will be awarded the Bachelor of Science in Psychology and the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies.

Plus, she’s fluent in four languages – Russian, English, French and Spanish – and can speak two others, Mandarin and Japanese.

And that’s just the beginning of her resume.

Medvedeva also is an accomplished piano player, an academic tutor, and a project coordinator for a research project on addiction and mental illness.

“Few students in my 20 years of teaching have been as open-minded and willing to learn about EVERYTHING as Angela!” says Tom Behr, director of the Liberal Studies Program. “Somehow in Angela’s universe the clock has 72 hours a day.  We have had many conversations on readings from her Liberal Studies courses and on readings that I suggested for her.  She understood right away how important it was to consider the ‘why’ of the Humanities alongside the ‘how’ of the Sciences.  ‘Wise beyond her years’?  Wise beyond her professors, perhaps!”

Her career goals? Enroll in and graduate from medical school and become a medical researcher who studies brain disorders.

But right now, she’s still a teenager who began her college career at the age of 15.

“Having freedom and no parental supervision got to my head, and the first semester I hit almost all the parties on campus,” she says. “During my first year my suitemates were overprotective and my roommate probably spoke to my parents more often than I did about my whereabouts.”

It didn’t take long for her to settle down and find a balance between school and fun. Soon, her age became nothing more than a number.

“I discovered a happy balance between enjoying the carefree, fun life of a teenager and handling the responsibilities of a college student. For the most part, I didn't even think about it. To this day, there are professors and students in my classes who do not know my age,” she says.

Medvedeva was born in Zurich, Switzerland. As a child, she also lived in Russia, Monaco and the West Indies before her family moved to Houston in 2006. She attended The Banff School in Houston where she spoke Mandarin with her friends and studied Japanese on her own.

She graduated from high school in 2014 at age 15, and thanks to The Banff School’s dual credit program with Lone Star Community College, she entered UH as a junior the following fall.

Medvedeva says, “Graduating at my age was somewhat coincidental since I was taking as many classes that interested me as I could through my school’s dual credit program and ended up graduating from high school with an Associate Degree.”

While a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, she focused her liberal studies degree plan on getting French and Spanish minors, and her psychology studies on brain functioning and mental disorders.

“I have always been interested in how the brain learns and retains information. After working in different laboratories and learning neuroimaging and coding, I saw psychology as a bridge to neuroscience, which is my ultimate interest,” says Medvedeva.

While at UH, thanks to an Honor Society scholarship, Medvedeva had an opportunity to present her research at the national conferences for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the National Conference for Tackling Tobacco in Vulnerable Populations. She also studied and volunteered abroad in Costa Rica thanks to UH’s International Education Fee Scholarship, which funded her travels to the country.

In the fall, Medvedeva will attend Kingston University in London to study neuroimaging methods and brain functioning. Once that program is complete, she will pursue a medical degree back in the United States. Long term, she hopes to teach at the university level.

“As a professor, I intend to inspire students and share my love for knowledge as my professors did for me,” she says.

- By Monica Byars