14-year-old chess champion headed to UCLA

14-year-old chess champion headed to UCLA

Luke Harmon-Vellotti from Boise, Idaho

By the time he was 4, he had mastered multiplication tables. For a super smart child, he was progressing faster than previous smart kids in the Treasure Valley. By the age of 8 his mother was asking if there was any room in the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center with his mother’s persistence, they agreed to test Luke. Now he has decided at the age of 14 that he wants to attend college, but not any college UCLA.

Now that six years have passed since he entered the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center, and he has not only passed, but aced his classes, including quantum and nuclear physics. With nothing, left to learn in math and science Luke decided he wanted to attend college with his brother who graduated this year as well. Despite the four years between them Carl (Luke’s brother), allows Luke to join him and his friends because Luke can relate with them. They even have shared high school classes.

Luke applied to UCLA and was accepted. Other schools accepted him as well such as Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon. Within the past 10 years, there have been 20 younger than 16 accepted into UCLA. With his acceptance, he was awarded a scholarship that will help cover most of the cost associated with a four-year college education. Again, all this is done at age 14.

Being ranked the top player not only in Idaho, but also nationally for a 14yr old, and 43 internationally. He was introduced at the age of 4 by his father to deal with his unsatisfiable curiosity about math. When being taught his father would award him with coupons for ice cream. After years with six or seven hours daily of chess he absorbed 5,000 chess problems. Luke started to play adults at age 7, and he loved to lose as he played these adults because he thought about new ways he could become better.

When it came to other courses like History and economics, they didn’t come so easy he had to study a bit more on those courses. Once these classes had been accomplished, he wanted more. His want and need for tougher curriculum is when he set forth to go to college.

When not on the go roaming the country playing his beloved chess or working on his favorite subject of math working out math formulas Luke is still a normal kid playing video games, and Ping-Pong. His favorite video game: Super Mario. It requires “problem-solving skills as you search through different lands and collect coins and stars,” he said. “I always try to beat the game.”

Still his parents are trying to figure out how Luke will maneuver college. His mother even is considering going to help out for a year. They are also considering if Luke, and his brother will share a dorm room.

In the end, this soft-spoken 14yr old wants to utilize the medical center at UCLA and become a doctor one day.

By: Forrest L. Rawls

Source 1

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