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Britain’s 12 Year-Old Xavier Gordon-Brown & Nigeria’s 15 Year-Old Saheela Ibraheem inspire many as two of the World’s Youngest University Students



It is always a delight to hear about great academic achievements from young and fresh minds across the globe. In a world where the focus of young people is being adversely affected by peer pressure and the negative sides of the internet/social media, it is refreshing and inspiring to read about these brilliant youngsters.

Young geniuses are always a pride to their family, friends and communities and it is no wonder why they are often celebrated.

Today, British media has been buzzing with the story of 12 year-old Xavier Gordon-Brown who has now become Britain’s youngest University student. Daily Mail noted that at the age of 8, he got A* in his Maths GCSE. At the time he passed his GCSE which was in 2009, he was the youngest ever student to gain an A* in maths, and could recite 2,000 digits of Pi. A year after his GCSE success he passed his  A-levels.

Xavier’s interest in numbers started at an early age. He  could do double-digit mental arithmetic before starting school and he knew his times tables before he was four.

He only turned 12 last month and is now studying abstract structures, vector calculus and Newtonian mechanics in his spare time!

Because he is still so young, he has to be accompanied to his Monday evening lectures by  his mother. He travels with his mother to Open University lectures in East Grinstead two to three times a month.

He may still be too young to join Facebook, but is already studying for a degree in maths.

His story also reminds me of that of a 15 year-old Nigerian girl who gained admission to study Neuroscience at Harvard University last year.

Saheela Ibraheem, who was then a student at Wardlaw Hartridge School in New Jersey not only gained admission into Harvard, but into 13 of the 14 schools she applied to. They include Harvard, Princeton, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Stanford, Brown, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and more.

Saheela skipped the sixth and ninth grades and by high school, she switched from public to private.

Imagine having admissions into such an impressive range of premier institutions to choose from! Wow, simply wow!

One interesting thing I picked out from the stories of these youngsters is that despite their love for the academics, they are also involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities.

Despite Xavier’s busy schedules, he still takes piano lessons and teaches himself Latin at home. He also enjoys football, chess,  Taekwondo and trampolining and takes French and Spanish lessons at a Community College.

Saheela also excels outside the classroom. She is a three-sport athlete, playing outfield for the school’s softball team, defender on the soccer team, and swimming relays and 50-meter races for the swim team. She also sings alto in the school choir, plays trombone in the school band and serves as president of the school’s investment club, which teaches students about the stock market by investing in virtual stocks.

We celebrate the achievement of these well rounded youngsters and hope they serve as a source of motivation to their age mates.


On a different note, I picked up a trail of comments from some blogs and Facebook where people said these youngsters would miss out on their youth as a result of their academic commitments. Some people claimed that they would miss out on the fun of socialising and would have boring teenage years.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it is possible to still be a “genius” and enjoy all the fun perks of their teenage years?

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. Joan

    September 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    It is possible to mix work and play at that age. I do not think they are missing out on anything. I mean, when Xavier becomes the world’s first so, so & so, those that were not ‘missing out on life’ might still be struggling to work for one employer or the other.
    If Math is what my child considers to be fun at age 11 or 12, please by all means let him continue…

    Congratulations to both of them. The world needs more of these geniuses.

  2. cathy

    September 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm


  3. Anehibaby

    September 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    One thing is for sure, they may not neccessarily have a very sociable teenage life, but they are not missing out on anything, because once they are done (and they will be done early too), they will have more than enough time and money to have all d fun in d world. Besides their own way of having fun may be from excelling academically.

  4. Chattyzee

    September 10, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Wow! Amazing. I’m really inspired and challenged. Time to get to work.. But who says they cannot have it all? I mean you can be genius and still have a social life and it seems this kids are already on the right track.
    If they choose to devote their entire lives to their academic careers, then so be it. If they choose to quit school and start reality tv shows, God bless them. Either way it should be their choice and theirs only. Congrats and good luck to both kids!

  5. Temiloluwa

    September 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Wow! Inspiring

  6. anonymous

    September 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I applaud them on their achievements but I personally think they need to mature more. What does a 12 year old know he wants to do with his life? Its one thing to be book smart, but u still need to be street smart. They need to grow up with their mates and follow life’s natural course. #my2centsworthopinion.

    • Sabirah

      September 11, 2012 at 12:56 am

      Who determines life’s “natural course”

    • gimmer

      September 11, 2012 at 5:51 am

      see beef…SMH. the same way soe 12 yr olds effortlessly master azonto and makossa, these outstandingly brilliant kids have effortlessly excelled in academis. stop hating

    • Usaveone

      September 11, 2012 at 8:28 am

  7. Toyin

    September 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Congrats, to these young scholars. At their age, I was still trying to figure out who I want to go play dress up with or why the popular girl in class didn’t want me to be in their circle. Honestly, some children are wired differently, some still want to play with dolls and trucks while some want to solve problems at that age. For example, my mother was not your typical little girl. At such a young age, she knew what she wanted to be and thought like an adult. Of course, she sometimes acted young but the fact that at such an early age, she was clear she wanted to be a medical doctor. My grandmother tells this story all the time, that one day my uncle(my mom’s younger bro) fell and had a big scar on his leg. My mother literally went to get a cotton ball and iodine and treated him. Then cut a thin layer from a cloth and wrapped it around his leg. And, she always read and ask a lot of questions, didn’t play out that much. Let’s just say she was a serious focus little kid. So now, she’s a medical doctor always on a medical mission trips caring/treating less priviledge people is no surprise. She’s currently doing research on African women and breast cancer. My point is, it started from young.

  8. Le Dynamique Professeur

    September 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    People are doing amazing things mehn… I’ve always said it; No one was born to be great; its a mix of effort and determination that makes the genuis in every man to wake up. Kudos to their parents too.

    – LDP |

  9. yinka

    September 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Yes is very possible, God is really bless them and am very sure there parents will proud of them. May God keep them to be more useful to there various nation.

  10. Theophilus Akinwande

    September 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    This is a great achievement but one more thing is that their parent should try to put them through mostly on adult hood for them to be socialise and blend with adult pathern because they are practising what belong to adult

  11. mila

    September 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Wooooooooow is d word!I believe wherever u come from(background)if u set ur mind on any target,u can definitely achieve it,age too nt a barrier,thumbs up!

  12. Diana

    September 11, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Great job! I love stories about the up and coming youth…these kids are true inspiration…check out my blog and comment lovelies!

  13. NNENNE

    September 11, 2012 at 3:15 am

    It depends on how the individual and the family handle it.
    Some child stars still live a normal adult life.

  14. iamfascinating

    September 11, 2012 at 4:39 am

    wow, keep it up! focus and hardwork at such a young age! admirable.

  15. Elperez Samuel

    September 11, 2012 at 8:24 am

    These ones ARE NOT missing out on their youth at all! Those missing out on their youth are those who are 19 and still in secondary school. They become unemployable because these geniuses make them ‘overage’ in the employment market.

    Na so I dy shout give my son say he gotta meet up with this kind a generation. He’s not doing badly though; just want him to be a little bit more closer to this kinda ‘target’.

  16. Usaveone

    September 11, 2012 at 8:35 am

    keep it strong kids…


  17. olah

    September 11, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Human beings are wired differently, fun to them is what they are doing now. i do not think either of them is been forced to go to school or study etc. Fun means different things to different people.

  18. Brandigest

    September 11, 2012 at 8:46 am

    What’s this fun we talk about here? Is it engaging on frivolities? Or mortgaging of directions on the alter of peers that pressure you because they think you are different, thus remodelling you in ways that hinders smooth progress?
    At age 16, I have had 200 quotations to my credit, that’s what I loved doing, forming words to make ‘wise sayings’, I can stay a whole day learning the word patterns of world’s great men.
    Before I moved to form5 I have lost all that passion and direction becuase I joined the crowd. I thought they deserted me. I needed to be among my peers, be and act like them. Thank God I am back on track 10years after. Those words plus new additions will soon make me a bestseller author. I may have returned successfully on track but there are many youngsters who find it hard to regain that intensity or urge to aim for excellence and make a difference.there’s nothing like losing a teen’s age. There’s a long time of merriment and fun in future. Tell me is the Facebook guy not enjoying his life? As a parent which will you prefer in your child, high Intelligent quotient or street credibility?

    • Bukki

      September 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Thank you oh! Fun! Fun!! Fun!!! A generation LOST and now only interested in FUN. …everything these days is ….have fun! Nonsense! Whatever happened to achievements and joy? Joy not happiness because they are different! This generation needs to get back to the basics.

  19. saphyah

    September 11, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Really smart. And i am more particularly pleased that a Nigerian is in the news for positive reasons too. They can catch their own fun with the stuffs they are genius in 🙂 God bless their “brains”.

  20. kosi

    September 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Its up to their parents’ level of sensitivity. Great job kids!!

  21. Bukki

    September 11, 2012 at 9:30 am

    This is amazing and totally inspiring. I looked to see if saheela was resident / schooled in Nigeria and saw she didn’t. My point? This Nation is not grooming geniuses! She is a Nigerian brain being groomed elsewhere! Her patriotism in future will be to the Nations that invested in her! In my school days in Naija I remember a lot of extremely bright students…even in sports now with Facebook,I’m finding out most of them still leaving in Naija have deviated either still looking for work, are doing menial duties or are not even pursuing their passion in sports!unlike here where they discover your passion and gift and nurture it with you! Nigeria needs to stop wasting its citizens!!!

  22. Priscy

    September 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

    wow…really inspiring

  23. Anon

    September 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Yes, if knowledge comes to you easily it takes a tenth of the time it takes others to study. So you have more time on your hands.

  24. Oma

    September 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Amazing and inspiring.
    our young children need to hear stories like this to motivate them.
    there are way too many distractions now;social media and all.

  25. faith

    September 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

    amazing and inspiring…

  26. bello lanre

    September 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    yeah great kids and fantastic encouraged!

  27. Jim

    September 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    everyone’s got their gift(s). some have five, some two and others (like me) the sole one. Let those with five look not down on those with fewer, and let no envy be borne by those with only one. the most impt thing though is to be found using whatever gift to esteem the Gift-giver the Creator Most High Yahuwah. Therefore the most critical assignment for the parents of these youngsters is to ensure that the rulers of the darkness of this world don’t become the main benefactors of these talents, else they just become another (and believe me, there are sooo many) mind-controlled though richly-compensated slave, like Obama, Branson, Ecclestone and Tiger Woods are all well-feted, but are all just top slaves.
    Wonder who the master is…?

  28. allolies

    September 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    INSPIRING!did u say 12 and 15…..WOW!

  29. Tunmi

    September 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    The kids are not missing out because they are well rounded. The girl is on the soccer and swim team, and the boy takes piano lessons and Taekwondo. They get to interact with their peers and develop social skills. As long as it’s not just school work, they’re fine.

  30. Gist Naija

    September 14, 2012 at 1:20 am

    it is truly inspiring. But this is not the first time you about very young people making waves. But the problem is that after they hav grown a bit older, then you nothing about them.

  31. King Jerry

    September 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm


  32. Priscilla

    October 28, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Yes we can….. So proud of them

  33. HASSAN

    February 17, 2014 at 5:13 am

    I am one of their kind, in Univesity by fifteen, being a business man and living in Nigeria. I am studing PURE AND APPLIED BIOLOGY in a Nigeria University

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