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Youngest BGSU graduate of 2013 dreams of dental school

By Bridget Tharp

As other students his age claim their high school diploma, Logan Wolph is celebrating the bachelor's degree in biology he has earned cum laude at Bowling Green State University. He will turn 18 in August, and aspires to enter a graduate program in dentistry in the future.

Wolph is a humble, soft-spoken guy who kept a low profile and high GPA as a BGSU student, assimilating with peers through his involvement in Dental Club and the BGSU National Society of Leadership and Success.

Wolph would never brag about the grade levels he had skipped in elementary school or the unusually rapid pace with which he completed Hopewell-Loudon High School. And he certainly would never claim the distinction of "genius," though early intelligence testing qualified him for membership in Mensa International, a nonprofit society for individuals with high IQs, his parents said. It was a relief that classmates or faculty never asked his age, and he never volunteered the information.

"They probably don't realize how old I am," Wolph said, with a shrug.

"It never occurred to me that I was dealing with someone that much younger, which makes him shine all the more."Dr. Helen Michaels was stunned to learn his age secondhand after working for several months with Wolph, who she describes as "extraordinarily polite, professional and mature." As part of an independent study of hers, Wolph has spent dozens of hours to helping build the first local database of the more than 22,000 delicately preserved Northwest Ohio plant samples held on campus. (Many of the samples were collected in the early 1900s by Dr. Edwin Moseley, the first biology faculty member at BGSU.)

"He blended in, and he worked harder than many students much older than he was," Michaels said of Wolph. "It never occurred to me that I was dealing with someone that much younger, which makes him shine all the more."

His parents, Drs. Clay and Lora Wolph of Fostoria, both said they recognized exceptional abilities in their first child early. He was speaking in complete sentences "like a little adult" at two years old, his father said. Computer game instructions were a conduit for teaching himself to read, and before he entered school he was reading well. He learned all of the bones in the body by age four.

"He's a pretty incredible kid," his father said.

Many school officials resisted testing him for gifted programs. He was four years old when his first intelligence tests were conducted by his maternal grandmother, Virginia Poignon '81, who works for the Ohio Department of Education. He was identified as gifted at age seven through official testing in Seneca County.

"A helium balloon, he didn't want just to play with it," his mother said. "He wanted to understand the gas inside and why it did what it did. He didn't just ask 'Why is the sky blue?' He wanted to know about Saturn's rings and how things worked. I usually didn't have all the answers."

As a second grader, Wolph demonstrated sixth- to ninth-grade equivalencies. So his parents chose home school via an online program the next year, and he completed third and fourth grade by the following March. After finishing fifth and sixth grades in just one year, he entered high school early, and earned two years of college credit at Owens Community College and the University of Findlay through the post-secondary option. He graduated as his high school salutatorian at just 15 years old.

The toughest educational choices have been whether to let Wolph whiz through classrooms surrounded by much older classmates, his mother said.

"I'm the mom, I have to worry," she said. "I just kept telling myself that every decision we made wasn't final, that we could try something else."

"Everyone finds different ways to learn."It was a comfort for his parents when Wolph selected BGSU - not only had three grandparents attended, but it was close enough for Wolph to commute from Fostoria, and convenient to the second office of his parents' chiropractic practice in Bowling Green.

Wolph will take the entrance exam for dental school this summer, and apply to enter a program in fall, 2014. He said he dreams of emulating a great uncle who was such a skilled, gentle practitioner that he didn't need to use Novocaine and coaxed even the most reluctant patients into the dental chair.

"You hear stories about things going really badly, dentists not following proper procedures or sterilizing equipment," Wolph said. "I'd make sure I'd do things exactly how you're supposed to because a lot of things can go wrong."

Wolph may have completed grade levels quickly during his educational career so far, but he doesn't rush when he's preparing for a test. He likes to review small amounts of material at a time over several days leaving up to an exam, and he often finds himself as one of the last in the room when finishing the test.

"I wouldn't say it's been easy. It's been challenging. It all requires work, and study," he said of his coursework at BGSU. "Everyone finds different ways to learn."

(Posted May 6, 2013 )