Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct an inaccuracy regarding this student’s place in UCLA history. We regret the error.
Emily Beznos, 16, will make soon her mark as the youngest student to graduate from the University of California Los Angeles this year and one of the youngest grad’s in the university’s history.
It takes most people four years to graduate college, but for Beznos, who is gifted both academically and athletically, it only took two years.
“Even in middle and high school, I was younger than everyone else, so I was kind of used to it already,” the 16-year-old said.
Growing up, Beznos, who was always a little bit ahead of her time, was able to skip several grades and started taking college courses early on.
She said it made for a pretty seamless transition when it came time to apply for colleges. The now 16-year-old was accepted at all the UC schools, but there was only one school she had her eyes on.
“My dream school was always UCLA because my mom went there, my brother went there,” Beznos said. “When I got accepted into UCLA, I was so excited that I could finally go there.”
The teenager is a cognitive science major with a specialization in computing.
She says initially it was intimidating taking classes in some of the larger lecture halls, but that she was never afraid to reach out for help.
“She actually took charge of some of the group work,” her father, Jerry Beznos, said. “She was leading the groups and the projects with other students who were older than her.”
Her mother, Julia Beznos, says she always encourages her.
“Every day I tell her just believe it and look what you accomplished so far and there’s so much more ahead,” her mom said.
Beznos hopes to eventually go into sports medicine, which makes sense for the devoted rhythmic gymnast, who’s been competing since she was just 4 years old. She says it’s an activity that requires discipline and time management just like her academics.
“I just think that nothing is really impossible,” the teen said when asked what her advice is for others. “I think if you really want something, it’s definitely achievable.”
Beznos will officially walk across the UCLA stage in June, graduating summa cum laude. She then plans to focus on her athletics, with some international trips and competitions coming up.