It’s graduation season. A time to celebrate the achievements of the diverse graduates crossing the stage at UBC’s spring convocation.
Among them is computer science student Floria Gu—at just 18, officially the youngest student to graduate this spring.
“I had a lot of anxiety at first about my age,” she recalls of her first weeks on the Vancouver campus in 2019. If anyone asked Gu student how old she was, Gu would “deflect and change the subject.”
“I don’t really think of it anymore,” she says.
Gu attended elementary school in Metro Vancouver. In 2016 at the age of 12, she applied for and was accepted into the University Transition Program, a Ministry of Education Provincial Resource Program with staffing and administrative oversight provided by the Vancouver School Board and hosted at UBC.
She completed five years of high school curriculum in two years and was ready to embark on her degree program at just 14.
“It was something of a challenge. My high school was very small and UBC is a very large place,” Gu recalls.
But Gu did what she did in elementary school and then in her accelerated high school: She got to work with the support and encouragement of her parents.
“I really just went about my school work to get the best grades I could,” she says.
Along the way Gu found time to explore charcoal sketching, eventually melding her artistic inclinations with her studies by dipping her toe into game development. Now she is looking ahead to pursuing a Master’s degree, specifically in computer graphics.
“It’s good to get good grades and all, but there’s a lot of other things to explore in life,” she says.
As Gu looks back on her time at UBC, her favourite memory is a moment of revelation, sitting in a computer lab, working on her honours thesis examining texture-space shading when suddenly everything clicked and the program worked.
Hopefully she can add being UBC’s youngest graduating student to that memory list when she crosses the stage to accept her degree on May 30.
This spring, UBC is also celebrating Yee Siong Pang, who at 78, is UBC’s oldest graduating student, and Arthur Ross who will receive his degree 54 years after he first enrolled. These graduates prove that age and time constraints are no barriers to achieving academic success.