The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Krishna García-Martínez to become City Colleges youngest ever graduate

Courtesy of Sara Boyd

At the age of 13, Krishna García-Martínez stands on the brink of making City College history as its youngest graduate ever. García-Martínez is set to graduate this spring with honors and two associate degrees in liberal studies, with a science and mathematics emphasis and an arts and humanities emphasis.

García-Martínez’s journey to academic success is a testament to his unyielding determination and passion for learning anything about everything, particularly in the science department. 

“My parents, particularly my father, noticed I had an early aptitude for science, and he bought me a book—an encyclopedia of historical animals,” García-Martínez said.

Five-year-old García-Martínez didn’t simply read his encyclopedia but began to memorize it, reciting information to his parents with consistent timelines tracing back to the beginning of time.

“They started thinking that I had an eidetic memory where I [could] recall every bit of information I learned by seeing an image of it in my head,” García-Martínez said. “Which I believe is true.”

According to his mother, Sara Boyd, it wasn’t merely his academic abilities that set him apart; there was an indescribable uniqueness to García-Martínez.

“We just realized that he had something special going on in his mind,” Boyd said.

This “something special” was fueled by García-Martínez‘s thirst for knowledge. His father, Marc García-Martínez, a professor of English at Allan Hancock College, decided to introduce him to current Dibblee Curator of Earth Science Jonathan Hoffman, who works at the Santa Barbara Natural Museum of History, and former City College Geology professor Jenna Rolle, who now teaches at UCSB.

After being homeschooled throughout the entirety of his early adolescence, García-Martínez’s time at City College was his first experience in a traditional classroom setting.

Courtesy of Sara Boyd

“[Rolle] said I could audit her dinosaur class,” García-Martínez said. “I, of course, was interested in all paleontology, but that was what was available. So I audited that in early 2020.”

García-Martínez audited her course at nine years old, which further prompted a desire to take more classes in the science department and indulge in City College’s course offerings. However, during García-Martínez’s time as an auditor, COVID-19 hit, bringing its own complications.

According to Boyd, they initially faced setbacks concerning his acceptance into City College. He was denied admission when he was ten due to possible “clerical errors” or what Boyd believes to be the disbelief that a ten-year-old was trying to enroll in college.

García-Martínez explained how he and his family “scrambled for support” through recommendation letters. Once they gathered the letters, he was accepted into City College as a student at the age of ten and enrolled in that same paleontology class during the fall of 2021.

“That’s how I started, and here I am about to graduate with honors,” García-Martínez said. “In [my] first three semesters, I was more just coasting with my interests.”

In the summer of 2022, García-Martínez met with a counselor and began planning to pursue a degree. Specifically an associates in liberal arts with a science and mathematics emphasis.

“My main interest was earth and planetary sciences,” García-Martínez said.

Despite earning his two degrees, García-Martínez plans to return to City College in the fall to build upon his current certifications and work towards a mathematics degree, which, he explained, will give him a solid mathematical foundation.

“Once that’s completed in about two years, I’ll be 15 to 16,” García-Martínez explained. “Then I intend to transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, or UCSB, where there are several majors, especially engineering geology.”

He stressed the importance of being an ‘equal’ to the students and professors he works with despite his colleagues being almost double his age at times.

But in addition to his academic pursuits, García-Martínez finds solace in various hobbies and interests. 

“When I’m not working hard, I enjoy building large structures and dioramas with my Legos,” García-Martínez said. “I’ve built those for years. It’s always been a creative outlet of mine. I also enjoy playing the violin and reading a lot of nonfiction. As a lover of science, I like older 20th-century Star Trek and Tolkien.”

His love for learning knows no bounds, from indulging in Star Trek lore to watching the latest non-fiction documentaries to devoting hours to schoolwork.

“​​I love to tell everyone everything I learn,” García-Martínez said. “I share it, think about it, and talk about it. I also enjoy the schoolwork. Sometimes, the work is challenging but enjoyable.”

City College Astronomy professor Erin O’Connor is a pillar of guidance to García-Martínez, who he explained is one of his biggest motivators and inspirations. He also acknowledged that much of his inspiration comes from City College Astronomy Physics professor Sean Kelly, his father, and various other scientific pioneers, such as Geochemist Clair Patterson, who share a common thirst for knowledge.

“I want to improve the way we live with what I learn, of course,” García-Martínez said. “That’s one of the best things about knowledge.”

García-Martínez‘s father is a professor, and his mother is also his homeschool teacher. Coming from a family of teachers, García-Martínez’s father is also an emblematic figure in his life, serving as a support system and his personal cheerleader.

“Everyone in my family is really proud of me right now,” García-Martínez said. “And I’m glad I’m bringing so much honor to them and SBCC. It’s definitely a great feeling.”

Upon reflecting on her son’s time at City College, Boyd noted that his age was never a barrier to his success despite their initial obstacles.

“At first, I did get a few phone calls from the dual enrollment office just to confirm his birthday, like, ‘2010. Yes, that was the year he was born. Really? Yes,’” Boyd said. “I think everyone at the dual enrollment office is familiar with his name.”

García-Martínez added, “I proved to them that I’m smart and capable.”

His younger sister, Audrey García-Martínez, who is 10 years old, plans to become a zoologist veterinarian and expresses admiration for her brother.

“I think it’s amazing that he’s doing this so young,” Audrey García-Martínez said. “He has a very big brain, as you can see. It’s overwhelming, but I’m happy he’s graduating. He’s earned it.”

As García-Martínez prepares to walk the stage at City College’s upcoming commencement ceremony, he carries with him a historical achievement and a personal goal he is determined to accomplish.

“I hope someday someone will say, ‘oh, SBCC started his path. He graduated there at 13.’ I don’t know; it would be nice,” García-Martínez said. “I hope that someday if I become notable, I will make the world a better place.”

Correction: May 14, 2024
A previous version of this story misstated Krishna García-Martínez’s last name as “Martínez.” The Channels regrets this error.   

Story continues below advertisement
More to Discover