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CCS Marine Biology Program Admits 13-Year-Old Whiz Kid



If you’re around the marine biology area of campus and you bump into a kid who looks to be about 13, stop and say “hello” to the youngest student admitted to UCSB in the last 15 years.

Benjamin Brown, first-year College of Creative Studies biology student, said there were three main reasons why he and his parents decided on UCSB as the next step in his education.

“It is a realistic distance from my home, the marine biology program is excellent and CCS really sold UCSB to me,” Brown, who continues to live at his home in Los Olivos, said. “The bottom line is I was happy.”

Chancellor Henry T. Yang said the “unique situation was very carefully evaluated,” and Brown was admitted with unanimous approval from the CCS Biology Admissions Committee.

Brown said he was home-schooled through elementary and middle school, graduated high school from a charter school and has already taken many courses at Santa Barbara City College. He said he carpools with a graduate student on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for his classes in biology, chemistry, history of ancient religions and civilizations as well as two freshman seminars.

He said his classes are challenging, but he had no expectations about his academic course load.

Yang said he thinks Brown is prepared for UCSB, especially with the backing of his family.

“Ben is very motivated,” Yang said. “His interests are quite focused in the area of marine biology. He has shown maturity, and he has the strong and sensitive support of his family.”

Brown said he plans to graduate UCSB in four years, then proceed to graduate school, where he said he thinks he’ll continue his focus on marine biology.

Upon receiving his master’s at around the age of 21, he said he plans on earning his Ph.D. or doctorate and getting out into the research field.

Because Brown is a CCS student, Yang said, he will be able to better organize his education to fit his potentially shifting interests.

“We anticipate that Ben will become an excellent student in the field of marine biology,” Yang said. “As with our other CCS students, he has flexibility to change his interests as his university experiences expand.”

Brown said he appreciates the fact that he is so young, which gives him options.

“If my interests change, I’ll just change my education,” Brown said. “The one thing I have the most of is time.”

Brown said attending UCSB at his age has made very little difference in his social life.

“It’s amazing how little difference [going to college] makes in my friendships; I still have friends from kindergarten,” he said. “I’m mainly here for classes but I’d love to go to a basketball game or baseball game. … There was a CCS barbeque where I met some really nice people.”

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