PLANTATION, Fla. – Kate Maier isn’t old enough to drink or rent a car — but age is just a number when it comes to her academic pursuits.
At 19, most students Maier’s age would be in their first year or two of college. Instead, the South Florida scholar is leaving town Thursday to head to Yale University — to begin her PhD.
In a lot of ways, Maier is your average South Florida teenager: she likes painting, hanging out with friends, and watching TV. But she’s anything but average.
“I feel like the last -- I want to say especially the last five years of my life, but really my entire life has been this cascading domino effect of things, events that have happened to me,” she said.
In fact, at just 19 years old, she already has a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University’s Wilkes Honors College and is now heading off to Connecticut for her doctorate degree.
“I’m going to Yale in the fall,” she said. “I’m entering Yale’s Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program to receive my PhD in Neuroscience.”
Back when she was in first grade, Maier’s mom said she knew her daughter was ready for some advanced education in math, so she enrolled her at the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science, or IMACS, in Plantation.
“She noticed things, even in that first class, that many students didn’t, so that told me that she had the ability. Whether she’d reach that potential, I don’t know, but now she clearly has,” said Terry Kaufman, president and co-founder of IMACS.
Maier kept going to IMACS through 8th grade and now her picture will be going up on the wall with other success stories -- students who have gone on to do great things, just like she will.
“I eventually want to start my own independent lab,” she said. “I know how important mentoring has been to me, how important my mentors have been to me, so I really want to, I guess, pay that forward to the next generation of scientists and then the next generation of scientists.”
Maier wants to combine her interests in neuroscience with her interest in programming, using her skills to sort through and analyze tons and tons of data, and use her findings to improve our world.