At only 10 years old Kaitlin Hickman joined an elite group of individuals who scored in the top two percent in a standardized intelligence test.
Kaitlin was inducted into Mensa International in June. Mensa is a society that qualifies members by their IQ test results, only the top two percent can join. The society serves as a forum for intellectual dialogue and exchange amongst its 120,000 members worldwide. Within the U.S., there are only 57,000 members, of those members only 2,600 are under the age of 18.
When Hickman started kindergarten, her mother Brandi Van Gils, an employee at White Sands Missile Range, was approached by her teachers to have her tested for the gifted and talented program. Once Hickman reached third grade her teacher asked if they could advance Hickman in the Language Arts subjects. After a series of tests, Hickman began taking fourth grade Language Arts classes in the afternoon. She also began taking fourth grade band because of her new schedule.
Once it came time to register for another school year, Van Gils was approached, yet again, by the school staff to ask about advancing Hickman to the fifth grade. Van Gils worried that her daughter would be bullied by the older kids because of her small size. However, Van Gils found that Hickman related more to the fifth graders than the kids in her own age group.
“She’s more socially advanced and into what the older kids are into,” Van Gils said.
Although Hickman missed an entire year of fourth grade math, she graduated fifth grade with an above 3.0 grade point average.
Hickman has now started sixth grade at only 10-years-old and admits that she likes being the smallest person in her class. Van Gils said several of the students are protective of her and treat her like a little sister.
Van Gils remembers when Hickman was born. She said her small stature put her in the one digit percentile in both length and weight. Her head circumference however, measured in the 95th percentile.
After finishing middle school, Hickman plans to attend Arrowhead Early College High School. Since she has already skipped a grade, it is possible for Hickman to receive her associate’s degree at 15 years old. If she continues, she may be able to obtain her bachelor’s degree at 18. Currently, Hickman plans to be a doctor, a zoologist or a veterinarian.
“She’s very humble. She doesn’t brag. She didn’t tell anyone,” Van Gils said.
Hickman loves computer games, archery and band, and her current book series “Warriors.” She may go back to cheerleading with the Xtreme All Stars based out of Las Cruces. Just two years ago Hickman’s team was awarded the national championship. Hickman has also taken on guitar. At first she was taking lessons then she started playing on her own. She most recently learned how to play, “La Bamba.”
“She’s so self motivated. If she asks for help, I help. She’s really confident,” Van Gils said.
Hickman’s advice to anyone who aspires to do what she has done in her 10 years is to keep trying and if you don’t know how to do something, “look it up.”