Ronald McCullough Jr. is one exceptional soon-to-be-alumnus of Clark Atlanta University. At commencement May 22, the former child genius will graduate with honors with a B.S. in biology a full two years ahead of his classmates, at the youthful age of 19. Along the way, he earned membership in Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society. How did the CAU legacy student (his mother graduated from the former Clark College) do it? Well, it began years before he arrived at CAU at just 16 years old.
Turns out McCullough, then 15, also graduated early from Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, after his genius-level intelligence allowed him to skip the second grade. His parents and teachers recognized early McCullough far outpaced his classmates in science and mathematics. His university friends, though, had trouble believing he was so much younger than them until he showed his driver license. McCullough has always possessed an extraordinary ability to understand and retain information about very complex subjects. Yet, the real life “Doogie Howser” has always considered himself to be an average teenager.
“I would not consider myself a genius,” McCullough said. “I was placed in a setting for my love of learning to manifest. Much was expected of me and there was little room for disappointment.”
McCullough is one of nearly 200 students who are members of the Isabella T. Jenkins Honors and Scholars Program at CAU, led by Dr. Teri Platt. The program seeks to provide students with the ultimate learning experience while enrolled at CAU. Some of its goals are to nurture and foster intellectual independence and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.
“Ronald embodies the best and the brightest we have here at CAU,” Platt explained. “He definitely represents black excellence and its many manifestations. Not only is he brilliant, he has unimpeachable character. He has contagious drive and ambition, but remains grounded,” she continued.
McCullough’s brainpower has not gone unnoticed. Post-graduate engineering programs are heavily recruiting him, including N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) and University of Hawaii. The future astronaut plans to enroll in the biological/agricultural engineering program at A&T.
“I just wake up in the morning and do the right thing,” he said when asked how he has been so successful at such a young age. “Just by doing what I believe is the right thing for my future, I’ve been rewarded greatly.”