The Littlest Bruin
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class she usually spends time studying or catching up on reading.
heightened intellect was evident from her earliest years.
When she was 3, a teacher at the Montessori school she attended
told her parents, both of whom are professors of electrical engineering
at UC Riverside, that she had never seen a child who could read
as well as their daughter.
a number of years, they home-schooled her in collaboration with
an independent-study academy that specializes in working with gifted
children. Later, when there was little challenge left in the high
school curricula she was working through, they enrolled her at Riverside
Community College. She was 8, and tested into the highest math level
possible at that school, calculus.
is Catherine's métier. The symbols, she says, fascinate her.
just always liked symbols. I've never really liked things having
to do with English or with writing because it's just words, words,
words, and to me it just gets boring after a while. So when you
deal with something other than words like numbers and symbols, it's
nice. Anything that deals with numbers is basically more appealing
to me than anything having to do with writing."
enjoys learning Japanese, which her father is teaching her, for
the same reason; she is enthralled by the symbols of the written
knows that she's smart, but there is no pretense about it. Her intellect
is not something that she wears on her sleeve.
"Very natural" is how Ronald Graham, a UC San Diego computer
science and engineering professor who mentored Catherine while she
was enrolled at Riverside, describes her. "She's not geeky
or anything. She's very polite and nice."
and nice are fine with her friends and family. When it comes to
mathematics, a better word might be tenacious. She more or less
attacks the subject. "She just wants to learn everything,"
Graham says. "It really is something within her. She has an
innate ability to see the patterns in things. It is very highly
developed. And mathematics, after all, is the science of patterns.
She is able to make connections that are very unusual for someone