Va. Teen Graduates From GMU Saturday

At the age when most teenagers are starting college, one Prince William County teen is finishing her bachelor’s degree.

Paige Epler is only 19 years old, but on Saturday, she’ll be a George Mason University graduate. She started college when she was 13, something that confused many of her peers.

“I remember some people when I started out thought I was the professor’s kid,” she said.

A biology major, she’s currently working at the school’s Krasnow Cancer Research Lab while also minoring in astronomy. Her love of science is something that was evident from an early age, when her parents videotaped her reading an encyclopedia at the age of 2. Later, when she was testing for kindergarten at the age of 4, a specialist called her parents.

“She said, “You can’t put your kid in kindergarten,’ recalls Epler’s mother, Pamela Coan Epler. “OK, so we’ll wait another year.” But then the specialist continued. “She said, ‘She’s reading over an eighth grade level!’”

After graduating Saturday, Epler will study three more years to earn another bachelor’s, this one in physics. Then she plans to go to graduate school. Her ultimate dream is to get an MD or a Ph.D and conduct research to prevent birth defects.

While astounding, Epler’s achievements at such a young age are not what make her parents proudest; it’s what she plans to do with them.

“Her goal is not out to make money,” says her mother with a smile. “Her goal is to make the world a better place.”

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