International student from Ecuador will graduate from the University of Toronto at just 16yrs old

Post-secondary graduates often experience a whirlwind of emotions as they conclude their academic journeys.

“It’s really a lot of emotions that are hard to say,” said Daniel Honciuc Menendez. “Really proud of my achievements. Really excited of course. Honoured to be graduating.”

Honciuc Menendez, an international student from Ecuador, will graduate with high distinction in mathematics and a specialty in physics from the University of Toronto. Remarkably, at just 16 years old, he is the youngest student to graduate from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences since 1979, having begun his post-secondary education at age 12.

His accelerated academic path started early: at four, he skipped grades in the U.K.; at six, he took advanced courses at John Hopkins University’s Centre for Talented Youth; at ten, he took the SATs and skipped four grades to enter junior high; at eleven, he attended a theoretical physics summer program in Waterloo; and at twelve, he graduated high school and received a scholarship to the University of Toronto.

Associate professor Ania Harlick recalled, “I first met him in a second-year lab course. I saw him coding one day. It made me realize the way his brain works is not the same as the way my brain works.”

Despite his extraordinary achievements, Honciuc Menendez’s peers see him as one of them. He balanced his studies with typical teenage activities and was actively involved in the Physics Society. He only realized he was making history a month before graduation.

Honciuc Menendez credits his success to the support of his mother, faculty, friends, and university resources. Looking ahead, he has secured a full scholarship to pursue a Master’s in Quantum Science and Technology in Italy, France, and back at U of T, with plans to continue to a Ph.D. and become a mentor.

Reflecting on his achievements, he encourages others to “Keep doing what inspires you.”

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