The University of Chicago is about to award an M.D. to its youngest candidate in the school’s history. A 21-year-old man from Chicago, Sho Yano, began college at the age of 9 and then began medical school just three years later. Yano was able to read by the age of 2, write by the age of 3 and compose music by the age of 5. He will graduate this week from Pritzker School of Medicine, where he received a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and cell biology.
“I never understood that,” Yano said. “Why would being allowed to challenge yourself be considered more damaging that being totally bored?”
Yano was admitted to the University of Chicago back in 2003.
“I remember interviewing him … this nice, polite, 11-year-old boy, dressed in a little suit,” said Dr. Joel Scwab, a professor of pediatrics at the school. Scwab was also a member of the admissions committee. “He was never going to be among typical 11-year-olds, where his mother would drive him to Little League. He was going to be a doctor.”
There had to be a couple of accommodations made by the school for Yano because of his age at the time of admission. Yano began his Ph.D. training after his first year of medical school, which most commonly takes place after the student’s second year. By doing this, the school made sure that Yano was roughly 18 when he began his second year of M.D. studying, which is when the students begin interacting with patients.
Yano is preparing now for his residency in pediatric neurology, which he gained interest in while working a rotation at LaRabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
“I really liked not just taking care of kids, but the way the whole team worked together,” he said.
Yano’s sister, Sayuri, is Yano’s closest friend and a prodigy in her own right. Sayuri is Yano’s only sibling as well. In 2010, Sayuri received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Roosevelt University and now, at the age of 15, she is studying at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She is working towards a second bachelor’s degree, this one in violin performance. Yano has been in college for 12 years but is just beginning to fit in with other students. Yano had to deal with multiple wise-cracks since he was a college pre-teen student and they seemingly have passed. The school will hold its commencement ceremonies this coming Saturday.
He said, “I am living my dream.”