Nicolas Xiong entered the University of Houston when he was only 13 years old about four years ago.
Yesterday, the Asian American prodigy earned his mechanical engineering degree from the Cullen College of Engineering as the youngest graduate in his class at age 17. It will be his second college degree as he also already holds a mechanical engineering degree from a community college.
“I feel great, I’m on cloud nine,” Xiong told CW39. “I’m just really grateful for my time here and the opportunity to be graduating with all of my friends.”
Xiong, who is the first member of his family to graduate from a major college, is expected to work as a full-time engineer at Williams Companies shortly after his graduation. The firm, one of the largest energy companies in North America, reportedly had to wait until Xiong was 16 before they could offer him an internship.
Such impressive feat is not unusual for Xiong, who reportedly read the “Chronicles of Narnia” at 3 and became adept at freshman level high school chemistry at age 7. While Xiong appreciates all the support of groups, clubs and mentors he leaned on throughout his incredible journey in UH, he revealed that there have been many challenges along the way.
“It was a really rough transition,” said Xiong. “I was homeschooled for a while and working in a group environment was something I really haven’t had a chance to do.”
“As much as there are haters, there are more people supporting you,” Xiong was quoted as saying. “I don’t want to prove the haters wrong. I’d rather prove the people who believe in me right.”