Thursday, June 09, 2011
Stephen Stafford chafes at the label “genius” — even if he is the youngest student in the history of Atlanta’s Morehouse College.
“I just consider myself 15,” says the former Detroit resident, who spoke Friday to a crowd of fellow teens at the Southfield Public Library, hoping to inspire them to focus on their studies and go to college.
Stephen made it to Morehouse at 13, the youngest student to enroll at the 150-year-old college once attended by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
His mother, Michelle Brown-Stafford, describes him as a child prodigy. Stephen began solving math problems at age 2.
Brown-Stafford said she and her husband, Stephen, realized their son was advanced beyond his years while he was in kindergarten. “His teacher said to us, ‘I think you’ve got a child genius on your hands,’ ” said Brown-Stafford. “So when he was in the first grade, and my daughter, Martinique, was in the fourth grade, I began home schooling them.”
Stephen was four grades ahead of his peers in all classes but English. “I was only three grades ahead in English,” he said. “Math is a straight science, with straight answers, but English is more gray.”
When Stephen’s math expertise exceeded his mom’s capability to teach him at 11, she approached Morehouse.
“He audited a class and got the highest score in the class,” she said. “The dean told us he had a home there when he was ready, so he enrolled as a full-time student when he was 13.”