Like most kids, Kylie Munson, 13, enjoys a healthy mix of extracurricular activities, spending time with friends and doing well in school.
However, unlike many of her peers, she’s already doing so well in school, she can begin to think about a possible career as a geneticist, surgeon or any number of options that already make sense for the preteen who’s excelling in her Los Angeles Mission College coursework while being a member of one of the most competitive cheer teams in the country.
And despite being significantly younger than her classmates, Kylie is ranked first in her major — biological sciences — at L.A. Mission, where she is enrolled in part-time.
“Her professors, who’ve known her for a couple years now, didn’t even realize she was so young and did a double take when they saw her birth date for recommendation letters,” her mother, Rachel Munson, said.
Kylie goes to school part-time at the college in Sylmar, and takes online classes at Sage Oak. In both capacities, she’s excelled, Rachel Munson said.
Kylie’s accelerated schooling journey came when her coursework at private school Trinity Classical Academy became too easy for her. Around fourth grade, she became homeschooled before coming back to the school system and testing into the ninth grade level. Two years later, she will graduate with a collegiate sophomore’s academic standing.
She plans to graduate this spring from both her charter high school, Sage Oak, and L.A. Mission, with a high school diploma and associate’s degree, respectively.
“I don’t really feel the age difference,” Kylie said of her older classmates at L.A. Mission College. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Whoa,’ but otherwise I feel we do connect. I do feel I get along with everyone.”
Her next step? Shooting for the stars and enrolling in a four-year university.
Kylie doesn’t know the specifics yet of what sort of medicine she wants to practice — she just knows she wants to be a doctor.
“Maybe a geneticist, but I’m also interested in surgery,” she said. “There’s a lot of different possibilities.”
So far, she’s looking at schools such as Harvard, University of Florida and Northwestern University. Another option is the accelerated direct medical programs, such as ones offered at Case Western University.
“That way, Kylie doesn’t have to re-apply to medical school,” her mother said. “She’d technically be entering college with junior standing once she gets her associate’s.”
In her spare time, Kylie also does cheer competitively. She is a flyer on the SMOED squad, a prestigious California All Stars Cheer Squad and recently featured on AwesomenessTV. She also tutors in her spare time and volunteers with National Honor Society.
“She was always more mature and ahead of other kids her age, I could tell,” Rachel Munson said. “And I knew she had a strong attraction to science even from an early age. She’s always wanted to be a doctor, and we’d go to the library when she was about 8 or 9, and she’d want to check out the medical journals.”
This summer, Kylie has been selected to represent California at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders conference in Boston, which will take place at Harvard University and serve as an opportunity to listen to doctors from all sorts of fields talk about their professions.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “I’m blessed to have the opportunity to do it.”
One drawback for the Munsons has been finding scholarships that Kylie qualifies for, Rachel said. Her age is the biggest legality issue, and so far, the family has been hard-pressed to find opportunities that accommodate Kylie’s achievement at such an advanced age.
When Kylie moves out of Santa Clarita for school, Rachel plans to follow her and take care of her daughter until she is old enough.
“I don’t want to hold her back, and I want to be supportive,” she said. “It’s crazy when I talk to professors and they say she’s more mature than the kids in her class. I love that she’s so humble. She’s grown up so fast.”
Kylie said she will miss her friends and community the most when she goes to college.
“But I am excited,” she said. “I’ll be sad when I leave, but I am going to learn even more about the science field, so I’m looking forward to that.”