Meet Dafne Almazan, a Mexican girl who knew how to read and write at the mere age of 6 and completed high school at 10. The “gifted child” is fluent in four languages and became the world’s youngest psychologist at 13 after obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM).
What’s more, the 17-year-old prodigy is set to enter a postgraduate program at Harvard University—the first Mexican under the age of 18 to enroll in a master’s degree at the prestigious American Institute in 100 years.
At Harvard, Dafne will study a master’s in math education.
“We always consider math difficult, but it’s something that’s part of our lives and we need strategies so that we can teach [the subject] and get children interested,” she said in an interview with EFE, as per Remezcla.
With all that she has accomplished so far, it’s clear that Dafne is a gifted person—one who has an IQ of more than 130, as per World Health Organization (WHO).
In fact, Dafne is one of the estimated 1 million gifted children in Mexico.
You’d be wrong if you thought a gifted child always spends their time studying in a library.
“We don’t have to give up our youth just because we’re gifted, you know,” Dafne told the GlobalPost.
As the proverb goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Besides studying, in her leisure time, Dafne plays the piano and teaches Mandarin to children.
She is also into ballet, gymnastics, ice skating, taekwondo, and oil painting.
“As a child I studied, but I also played often; I learned to play musical instruments and walked my dogs,” Dafne said, according to The Yucatan Times.
The talented Dafne was even named as one of the 50 most powerful Mexican women by Forbes in 2015.
In the opinion of Dafne, “gifted children in Mexico are often stereotyped, misdiagnosed, and poorly understood.”
“They are children just like any other, only with an IQ that is way higher than for the rest of the population,” Dafne’s father, Asdrubal Almazan, a doctor and director of the CEDAT foundation, said.
According to CEDAT, around 93 percent of gifted children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which causes them to lose their abilities. Only 4 percent of gifted children in Mexico make it to adulthood and are able to put their abilities to use.
Thus, in order to address this problem, her father set up the CEDAT institute to teach gifted students.
For Dafne, she is not the only gifted child in her family; her elder brother, Andrew Almazan, is also gifted.
“Establishing CEDAT began out of personal necessity, when I found out Andrew had genius-level intellect,” Almazan told USA Today. “When he was 9 years old, he was having trouble at school. He was smarter than the other kids, would often correct his teachers and suffered from boredom and bullying.”
Currently, there are over 300 gifted children studying at the CEDAT institute. In the past, the institute had received more than 4,000 students.
At the CEDAT institute, students are taught using Noumenic Methodology, a special education model designed by Andrew to develop child prodigies’ talent.
Further, Andrew has created a psychological profile to identify gifted children, who possess traits such as hyperactivity, rapid learning, distraction, and having an unusually large vocabulary.
“I’m trying to prevent other children from having to go through the same experiences as I did,” Andrew said. “Mexicans are very poorly informed about what genius-level intellect in a child means. Prodigies are often wrongly diagnosed with ADHD, and parents have no idea how to deal with them. Many are rejected by their classmates and their teachers.”
As for Dafne, she plans to teach mathematics in Mexico after finishing her studies at Harvard in a year’s time.
“My plan is to design and work with models for teaching mathematics to gifted children, which is one of the focuses of the degree,” Dafne said in a statement.
“I know it’s hard to reach and guide all gifted children in Mexico, but I’m optimistic that we’ll eventually be able to do so,” she told USA Today in 2015.
Way to go, Dafne. The sky’s the only limit to what you can achieve.