TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - According to test scores, Drew Falkowitz is a genius. But it's not a label he uses.
"In my house, 'genius' is a four-letter word," said the 16-year-old, who is the youngest graduate in the history of the University of South Florida.
He started taking college courses at age 14, working toward his focus on cell and molecular biology. He would like to become a medical doctor and research scientist.
"I've always wanted to combine my passion for research with something that will help people and make the world a better place," Drew told FOX 13.
He had a chance to try on the cap and gown he will wear at graduation Friday. He'll be one of around 7,500 USF graduates this spring, a school record.
Drew said students and professors have accepted him during his undergraduate studies. He will soon begin his post-graduate work.
"I've always wanted to be treated just like a normal college student," he continued. "I'll work through my side of it and hopefully everybody else says, 'Yeah, he's 16, but he's pretty normal.'"
Drew was reading when he was 20 months old. He attended a Montessori school in the lower grades, skipped some grades, and then did virtual school in high school along with dual-credit courses with USF. He grew up near the campus in New Tampa.
He plans to move into a dormitory here when he turns 18. If he stays on schedule, he'll be well into his graduate studies by then.
Drew says he has other interests outside of academics.
"I read, I play bass, I play a little bit of video games, I talk to my friends, I go to movies -- basically normal stuff," he said.
Even though he's on an academic fast track, Drew says the road to becoming a top M.D./Ph.D. will be a long one.
"You have to get board certified, and then you're just an associate researcher; you don't get your own lab. It's a whole thing. Academia really weeds it out good," he said.
But based on his past record, Drew may achieve his goals in record time.