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Boy genius’ book reveals life in college at age 8

Posted by on Feb. 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM
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LOS ANGELES - The one thing 14-year-old Moshe Kai Cavalin dislikes is being called a genius.

All he did, after all, was enroll in college at age 8 and earn his first of two Associate of Arts degrees from East Los Angeles Community College in 2009 at age 11, graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Now, at 14, he's poised to graduate from UCLA this year. He's also just published an English edition of his first book, "We Can Do."

The 100-page guideline explains how other young people can accomplish what Cavalin did through such simple acts as keeping themselves focused and approaching everything with total commitment. He's hoping it will show people there's no genius involved, just hard work.

"That's always the question that bothers me," Cavalin, who turned 14 on Valentine's Day, says when the G-word is raised. "People need to know you don't really need to be a genius. You just have to work hard and you can accomplish anything."

And maybe cut out some of the TV.

Although he's a big fan of Jackie Chan movies, Cavalin says he limits his television time to four hours a week.

Not that he lacks for recreational activities or feels that his parents pressured him into studying constantly. He writes in "We Can Do" of learning to scuba dive, and he loves soccer and martial arts. He used to participate in the latter sport when he was younger, winning trophies for his age group, until his UCLA studies and his writing made things a little too hectic.

Indeed one of the key messages of his book is to stay focused and to not take on any endeavor half-heartedly.

"I was able to reach the stars, but others can reach the `Milky Way," he tells readers.

It was a professor at his first institution of higher learning, East Los Angeles City College, who inspired him, Cavalin says. He didn't like the subject but managed to get an A in it anyway, by applying himself and seeing how enthusiastic his teacher, Richard Avila, was about the subject.

Avila, he says, inspired him to write a book explaining his methods for success so he could motivate others.

It took four years to finish, in part because Cavalin, whose mother is Chinese, decided to publish it in Chinese, and doing the translation himself was laborious.

Han Shian Culture Publishing of Taiwan put the book in print, and it did well in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, as well in several bookstores in Southern California's Asian communities. He then brought it out in English for the U.S. market.

Because of his heavy study load, Cavalin has had little opportunity to promote the book, other than a signing at UCLA, where he also lives in student housing with his parents and attends the school on a scholarship.

After earning his bachelor's degree, the math major plans to enroll in graduate school with hopes of eventually earning a doctorate.

After that, he's not so sure. He points out that he's still just barely a teenager.

"Who knows?" he says, chuckling at the thought of what lies ahead in adulthood. "That's a very distant future, and I'm pretty much planning for just the next few years. That's too far into the future for me to see."

By JOHN ROGERS     Associated Press
2012-02-15T17:41:31+0000 GMT

by on Feb. 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM
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Ametrine
by on Feb. 16, 2012 at 2:02 PM
1 mom liked this

Quoting: "The 100-page guideline explains how other young people can accomplish what Cavalin did through such simple acts as keeping themselves focused and approaching everything with total commitment. He's hoping it will show people there's no genius involved, just hard work.

"That's always the question that bothers me," Cavalin, who turned 14 on Valentine's Day, says when the G-word is raised. "People need to know you don't really need to be a genius. You just have to work hard and you can accomplish anything."

***

This rubs me the wrong way.  I don't think he is helping kids at all with this, and his speech here minimizes gifted children, imo.

I don't believe "you just have to work hard and you can accomplish anything."  Some people just don't have the brain power, and enthusiasm and hard work won't make up for that...pure and simple.

corrinacs
by on Feb. 17, 2012 at 10:54 AM
1 mom liked this

I know what you mean, but I don't think its going to be seen that way on the outside.  PPL that don't have gifted children are trying to make thier children gifted and reading something like this will "make them feel better" about it.

unique_puzzle
by on Feb. 17, 2012 at 1:20 PM

The fact that is mother is Chinese explains a lot.  This reminds me of the book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"  I don't have any doubt that this kid is obviously gifted since he has accomplished so much.  However I'm pretty sure that had he had a different set of parents he would have accomplished much less despite his "genius"

emilyrosenj
by on Feb. 28, 2012 at 9:03 AM
1 mom liked this

I would beg to differ.  I think you CAN accomplish anything with hard work.  Anyone can, you don't have to be gifted to do that.  If you are gifted you can do it at an accelerated pace.  If you are not, it can take you longer but it can be done. 

Christine100700
by on Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:48 AM
Emily, that simply isn't true. While we'd like to think that just putting hard work into something gives you the ability to accomplish it but while that may be true in more simplistic goals, others hard work just isn't going to cut it. People don't like to hear it but not everyone is equal in talent, ability, or intelligence.
emilyrosenj
by on Feb. 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM
It's Margaret and yes it is true. Your making it very definitive, but most reasonable people will choose a goal within their abilities. Given that framework, what they want to be, what they want to do is within their reach with HARD WORK. I knew I would never be a doctor, I didn't like biology and I don't like the sight of blood and I didn't want to go to college that long. But that didn't stop me from achieving other things through hard work.

Quoting Christine100700:

Emily, that simply isn't true. While we'd like to think that just putting hard work into something gives you the ability to accomplish it but while that may be true in more simplistic goals, others hard work just isn't going to cut it. People don't like to hear it but not everyone is equal in talent, ability, or intelligence.

Margaret
Ametrine
by on Feb. 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM

I think this is where the statement, "can accomplish anything", is interpreted differently.  Like Christine, I take it absolutely literally, where you seem to qualify it with "choosing a goal within their abilities."

Maybe that's splitting hairs?  LoL

Either way, we all know hard work and pushing oneself beyond what one thinks they can accomplish often can produce results.  I just don't believe it always produces results.

Quoting emilyrosenj:

It's Margaret and yes it is true. Your making it very definitive, but most reasonable people will choose a goal within their abilities. Given that framework, what they want to be, what they want to do is within their reach with HARD WORK. I knew I would never be a doctor, I didn't like biology and I don't like the sight of blood and I didn't want to go to college that long. But that didn't stop me from achieving other things through hard work.

Quoting Christine100700:

Emily, that simply isn't true. While we'd like to think that just putting hard work into something gives you the ability to accomplish it but while that may be true in more simplistic goals, others hard work just isn't going to cut it. People don't like to hear it but not everyone is equal in talent, ability, or intelligence.


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