U of T’s youngest student sets her sights on the stars

Xiaoxiao (Maddy) Zhang and friends

From left: U of T Engineering classmates and friends Xiaoxiao (Maddy) Zhang, Lorna Lan and Brytni Richards (all Year 1 EngSci) work with a robotic arm. “I’m so happy to have found the place I belong,” says Zhang. (Photo: Roberta Baker)

The University of Toronto’s youngest student has always charted her own course. When she joined Engineering Science — one of the country’s most rigorous academic programs — at age 14, Xiaoxiao (Maddy) Zhang was already an intrepid urban explorer, taekwondo black-belt, life-long reader, film buff, amateur inventor and one of China’s top students.

By the time she was two, Zhang could read. In first grade, she could recite multiplication tables, an educational milestone that prompted her to skip Grade 2. Then she was on her own.

“No one really skips grades in China,” recalls Zhang, a native of Beijing. “When that happened, they didn’t know what to do with me.”

Read more about Zhang’s educational journey on U of T Engineering News.