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Strangers Rally To Help 13-Year-Old “Wunderkind” Pursue Doctorate In Physics.

elliott tanner posing for a picture on top of the University of Minnesota's statue

Elliott Tanner’s parents always knew they’d need to foot the bill for their son’s education someday. They just didn’t realize that day would be today.

By the time he was 3 years old, the Minnesota child could already read and do basic math. Mom Michelle Robb Tanner homeschooled Elliott for a few years, and by the time he was 8, he’d already mastered the entire high school curriculum. The only logical next step was college, so Elliott enrolled at the University of Minnesota.

“He started college at 9 years old and graduated with his first degree, an Associate of Science in Mathematics, from Normandale Community College at 11 years old,” Michelle explained. “On May 12, 2022, Elliott will graduate from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Physics with a Math minor at 13 years old. He will be one of the youngest Bachelor of Science holders ever globally!”

Even though Elliott is a gifted scholar, he’s still a child at heart.

“People who hear Elliott’s story say he doesn’t get to be a kid, or he grew up too fast,” Michelle said. “He still very much is a kid and the only difference is he goes to school in a different building.”

With Elliott poised to graduate from college, the family set their sights on his next goal. Elliott aims to be a high-energy theoretical physicist. Some day, he hopes to become a professor of physics at the University of Minnesota, the alma mater that has fully supported his journey so far.

He recently got accepted into the University of Minnesota’s Physics Ph.D. program. The only problem? His parents don’t have the money to pay for it so quickly after paying for his Bachelor’s degree. They ended up starting a GoFundMe in hopes that people would hear his story and help out financially.

“We can’t stress enough that we are incredibly grateful to the University of Minnesota for accepting him into the program!” Michelle wrote. “We were shocked to discover the university did not extend a financial package to Elliott. Only 3% of incoming physics Ph.D. students in the U.S. do not receive a tuition waiver and/or financial package, so we never imagined that we would be scrambling to fund Elliott’s education at 13 years old.”

Adult doctorate students often work on campus or take on paying assistant roles for professors, but Elliott is too young for those options. Michelle says they’ve explored all the scholarships, fellowships, and grants they could find, but they couldn’t seem to hit their mark.

Thankfully, the internet had their back. The GoFundMe has pulled in $31,500 so far – that’s enough for Elliott’s first year of tuition!

Elliott and his family are incredibly grateful for the public support. This is one case when it really does take a village to raise a child – especially a special one like Elliott!

Share this story to cheer him on as he works to become a teenage doctor!

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