Santa Clarita native Kylie Munson thinks of school much like most kids her age: challenging, but manageable.
The difference is she’s only 15 and already ready to tackle medical school after graduating from the University of California, Irvine, with a bachelor’s of science degree in biological sciences.
Even so, Kylie says she doesn’t feel the age difference with her fellow graduates, many of whom are nearly seven years older than her.
“She is so humble (about) the whole experience. I’m the one who’s excited, and I’m so proud of her,” her mother Rachel Munson said. “She has a pathway in her mind of what she wants to do, and she’s just going after it, which is amazing.”
Kylie always excelled in school, and by the time she was in the fourth grade, her coursework at Trinity Classical Academy became too easy for her.
At 11, Kylie tested into the ninth grade, and began attending a local charter school after homeschooling for a year while simultaneously taking classes at Los Angeles Mission College.
At 13, she graduated with both a high school diploma and associate’s degree and was accepted to UCI.
And now at 15, the college graduate is studying for the MCAT and preparing to apply to medical schools.
Finding her passion was easy for Kylie, as she said she felt naturally drawn to science since grade school.
It was an affinity that was also evident to her mother, as Kylie would gravitate toward the medical journals, depicting DNA strands, bugs and “anything science,” rather than kids’ books, during library visits at a very young age, Rachel said.
It was that eagerness that Rachel believes helped Kylie excel, without any other distractions to worry about — other than being a cheerleader, that is.
“It was more of a stress reliever for me,” Kylie said of cheerleading. “It was something to look forward to.”
Kylie was a flyer with the California All Stars Cheer Squad before joining the Spirit Squad at UCI, which her mother thinks was helpful in allowing her to mature faster than her peers, teaching her teamwork and time management as she learned to juggle cheer practice and schoolwork.
“I’m just blown away, honestly, in her ability to say, ‘I’m going to do this no matter how hard it is,’ and she does it and doesn’t look back,” Rachel added.
It was through scholarships and grants that Kylie was able to attend UCI, receiving the university’s top Regents’ scholarship, UCI’s Stanley Behrens scholarship and The Rose Hills Foundation scholarship.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities that UCI has given me,” Kylie added. “It was definitely an experience that I loved. … It was a little more challenging than the community college, but I think if you put in the hard work for those classes, you can get through them.”
While Kylie missed being on campus this past year, the pandemic actually allowed her passion for science to continue to flourish, keeping her interested in the medical industry as she looks forward to further explore the field to find out what she wants to specialize in.