Next for 15-year-old PSU grad? Physics in Scotland

Grant Harter is the youngest student to earn a bachelor's from PSU

Grant Harter, 15, graduated from PSU with a degree in physics and mathematics and will go into the Master's program at the University of Edinburgh, July 10, 2017 (KOIN)
Grant Harter, 15, graduated from PSU with a degree in physics and mathematics and will go into the Master's program at the University of Edinburgh, July 10, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Grant Harter just graduated from Portland State University with a degree in physics. He’s been accepted to the grad school at the University of Edinburgh and will move to Scotland in the fall.

Grant Harter is 15, the youngest student ever to earn a bachelor’s degree from PSU.

“Very few people even know that I’m 15. It comes as a surprise to a lot of people,” he told KOIN 6 News. “It’s like, ‘Oh you’re 15? Never would have guessed that.'”

He was home-schooled and was able to get into a college program when he was 12. His mother, Kaye Harter, said she didn’t really think he was different than any other child, though she admits she had a feeling.

“I did have a feeling when he was an infant there was just something going behind those eyes that I knew there was someone really incredible,” Kaye said. “But then I also know every parent feels that way about their kids.”

GoFundMe: Invest in today’s Einstein

Kaye is a single mom and said their life has been very difficult. They’re both survivors of domestic violence.

“When I say ‘impossible odds’ I know there are people out there hearing this that are living that same situation,” she said. “And I know there are so many other people out there dealing with so many challenges and being a parent.”

That’s one reason they wanted to share their story.

“No matter what’s going on around you, staying focused on your goals, it is possible to make it out of impossible situations,” Kaye said. “I want to give others hope that they can do this, as well.”

Grant’s academic achievements “came from really good planning” and working toward goals, she said. “It was pretty natural, the whole process.”

The University of Edinburgh (Scotland) as seen on Google Street View, July 10, 2017
The University of Edinburgh (Scotland) as seen on Google Street View, July 10, 2017

The family started a GoFundMe page to help them both get to Scotland. The page is filled with PSU professors sharing their insights into Grant, his motivations, skills and potential. The GoFundMe money will help with moving and travel costs plus incidental costs connected with an international move, they say.

Still, Kaye said he is still a teenager who is not even old enough to drive.

Grant Harter, 15, graduated from PSU with a degree in physics and mathematics and will go into the Master's program at the University of Edinburgh, July 10, 2017 (KOIN)
Grant Harter, 15, graduated from PSU with a degree in physics and mathematics and will go into the Master’s program at the University of Edinburgh, July 10, 2017 (KOIN)

“I wish he cleaned his room better, take out the trash better,” she said, laughing. “He’s a very positive person, very optimistic. He’s constantly looking for the good in everything, and that, to me, inspires me. It really does.”

Grant Harter said his time at PSU was great and everyone was incredibly supportive during his time on campus. He remains focused on what he wants to do and why he wants to do it.

“I definitely want to go into resarch and maybe become a professor. I definitely want to get my Ph.D after my master’s degree,” he said.

He likes “the mystery” of physics because there’s “so much that we don’t know.”

“Kids of all ages should know science can be really fun,” Grant said.

A sign at PSU for the 2017 graduates, July 10, 2017 (KOIN)
A sign at PSU for the 2017 graduates, July 10, 2017 (KOIN)