13-years-old is a strange time in a young man’s life. Being 13-years-old usually entails acne, puberty, voice cracks, growing pains and upsetting your teacher and getting sent to the principal’s office. Very rarely does one choose a career path and a college major at that young age.
But James “Jimmy” O’Brien is not your typical 13-year-old. A biology and pre-med major, Jimmy enrolled at Oklahoma Christian University after outsmarting just about everyone.
“I went to kindergarten and then my parents took me out because I wasn’t getting a good education because it wasn’t at my level,” Jimmy said. “[My parents] homeschooled me. I was homeschooled then at 11 I started taking dual credit classes at my local junior colleges.”
While homeschooled Jimmy would take two grades in one school year. Excelling fast Jimmy would work hard and in some cases skip the summer to continue his schooling.
Oklahoma Christian wasn’t his first choice in university. When it finally came down to decide, Jimmy had to choose between Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma Christian.
“It was either I went to Oklahoma State or here,” he said. “Well first of all Oklahoma State is farther away and it’s a bigger campus and you have to drive between classes and I don’t have a car.”
His dad, Jim O’Brien is an electoral engineer for the Department of Defense said that right away they knew Jimmy was special.
“Around three years old he was doing long division,” O’Brien said. “It just came so naturally to him. By kindergarten he was so advanced it was very apparent.”
Jimmy always wanted to consume information, his dad said.
“In kindergarten he was asking ‘why,why,why?’ trying to figure things out for hours and just never endingly curious,” O’Brien said.
On top of school, Jimmy also was an avid hockey player, which is where he found his passion to be a doctor.
“He had multiple friends whose dad was a doctor,” O’Brien said. “His hockey team in Tahoe had an abnormal amount of doctors as parents. A lot of mentorship going on. I think that’s where his interest really started.”
Jimmy is tackling a full course load, with multiple of his college aged classmates saying that he actually helps them with their homework.
He also said the first few days at Oklahoma Christian were hard, but he quickly made friends and was able to find his place. Being that young surrounded by people so much older than him, Jimmy did not feel overwhelmed, rather, like everything else in his life, he saw it as another challenge he was going to conquer. Jimmy is wise, both socially and academically, beyond his years.