By Divya Joseph
It isn’t often one finds a child that lights up over getting a graphing calculator for Christmas but Tanishq Abraham, a former Visions in Education student, is no ordinary child. He started taking college classes at American River College at age seven, the youngest person to attend since the school began keeping records. He tested in the 99.99 percentile on I.Q. exams when he was four and has been a part of Mensa since. Currently he is participating in Lifetime Network’s reality television show “Child Genius,” in which 20 gifted children compete over eight weeks for the title of “Child Genius 2014” and a $100,000 college fund.
Tanishq is a rare package of unusual intelligence wrapped in childlike innocent charm. Aside from the calculator his Christmas list included a book on quantum mechanics and an Ebola lab. Yet Abraham believes in Santa: “I very strongly believe in Santa,” he says with a very firm tone. His mother, Tajji, says that he had even tried to program software to try to track Santa.
Tajji says she knew right from infancy that Tanishq was unique. She realized when he was three and a half months old that he could point to the right answers for questions she was asking about the storybooks read to him. When he was two years old he was doing kindergarten and first grade math.
“When it comes to the social aspect Tanishq is just like any other child, happy-go-lucky,” says Tajji, “But intellectually he was very different. He was very observant and learned concepts in above average speed.”
The Abraham family realized quickly that traditional schooling did not provide Tanishq with the ability to exponentially grow at his pace. ”He was getting very tired of the formal learning system and needed more freedom,” says Tajji, “This is when we found Visions and he loved it.”
The Visions style of learning allowed Tanishq to learn at his pace and soon he was enrolled in American River College as the school’s youngest attendee. “My goal is to have my Ph.D. by the time I get my driver’s license,” Tanishq told the audience during the first episode of “Child Genius.”
Aside from his passion for academics, Tanishq has also taken interest in singing. He was training in the San Francisco Boys Chorus, a pretisgious Grammy award-winning concert chorus. He has sung the national anthem at many athletic venues including at San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s games.
The result of his intellect, talent and hard work has been a lot of national and international media attention. Tanishq has appeared on “The Queen Latifah Show,” spoke at a TED conference explaining the exoplanets and supernovas he has already discovered and climate change. He is also the youngest poster presenter and speaker at a NASA conference in NASA Ames. And now, he can be seen on the “Child Genius” show on Lifetime.
Despite all this attention Tanishq is pretty focused on his goals of excelling in academic discovery and making a difference in the world. “The great thing about Tanishq is that the attention doesn’t get to his head,” says Tajji “He is too focused about inventing something or learning more.”
Tajji states that she is very proud of Tanishq and his nine-year-old sister Tiara, who is also a gifted student, for not just their intelligence but their character. “[My husband and I] are proud that they are intelligent kids but above all we want them to be good human beings,” says Tajji.
Tanishq points out that when just one of his goals is to cure cancer it is evidently hard to get caught up in the media attention. He says that he wants to put his intelligence to good use and make a difference for the world “I want to be President of the United States, doctor and a scientist,” he says. “I just want to make this world a better place.”
Watch “Child Genius” at 10/9c on Lifetime.