Union girl youngest ever to graduate from WSU

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 26, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 28 at 8:41 AM

UNION, Wash. -- A 16-year-old will become the youngest person on record to graduate from Washington State University this May.

Kayla Heard of Union, Washington, could talk when she was 1, and read at 18 months. She started first grade at age 3, graduated from high school at 10, and began community college at 11.

Kayla is home-schooled and is earning her social sciences degree though WSU online.

"My parents felt it wouldn't be good to send me to a campus at such a young age," she said. "I appreciate their decision, mainly because online studying has given me quite a bit of flexibility in my schedule."

Kayla's mother knew she was different early on.

"When she was a baby, she respected paper," Marlyn Heard said. "She didn't tear it or put it in her mouth. She would look at a picture or writing like she wanted to know what it said."

When Kayla was 7 months old, her mom laid out flash cards with numbers and letters.

"In two months she knew them," Marlyn said. "She would pick the the right ones - before she could speak." Kayla could print letters at 3 and write in cursive at 4.

At the age of 2, Marlyn said, Kayla realized that all the presidents of the United States have been male. She looked at her mom and said, "I'll be the first female president. And I'll defend the rights of children."

Kayla graduates with a 3.71 grade point average. She's already passed the law school admissions test, and wants to spend the summer filling out law school applications.

"I'm interested in pursuing a degree online in international law," Kayla said. "I have a passion for traveling and learning about foreign cultures." She wants to work abroad, possibly in Hong Kong, and she plans to "visit a plethora of foreign countries" before settling down.

Are there other brilliant members of the Heard family?

"I have relatives who are scholars, but not like Kayla," Maryln said. "And my son is more like a normal kid. He's 12. When he was a baby, he put the flash cards in his mouth."

Kayla and her family will attend the May 7 commencement in Pullman.

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