With her degree from UB at 18, dental school awaits

BUFFALO, N.Y. — At only 18, Monique Kapur-Mauleon will graduate from the University at Buffalo this weekend with her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, ready to take on dental school.

Monique arrived at UB last fall as a “first-year with senior status,” thanks to the 102 college credits she accumulated during her career at Lansing High School, outside Ithaca, where she graduated in 2021.

Now, less than a year after graduating high school, Monique will be among the nearly 6,500 students graduating from UB.

Her pace has been hectic, to say the least.

“I’d say that the hardest part was trying to manage the immense volume of coursework with everything else I’d like to do,” she says.

“Admittedly, I’ve had things I couldn’t focus so much on, particularly in a social aspect, but I by no means regret the path I’ve taken,” Monique says. “At the end of the day, I just need to remember my goals and aspirations in order to put things in perspective — and that’s enough motivation to continue.”

Her journey to graduating college at this young age began at 13 as an ambitious high school first-year, when Monique embarked on an early degree program at Tompkins Cortland Community College. The program allows students to earn an associate degree at the same time they are working toward their high school diploma.

During the day, Monique attended Lansing and finished her homework after school. In the evenings, she took a college course or lab, either at the Tompkins Cortland campus or virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. By the time she graduated high school, Monique had completed more than 30 college courses and earned dual associate degrees in liberal arts and sciences: math/science.

She chose to continue her education at UB, where she found an interesting selection of electives in her field. Premedical gross anatomy and developmental biology were her favorites.

“Even though this year has been extremely busy, I’ve been able to experience things at UB that I don’t think would have been as attainable had I chosen another university, like the opportunity to be a TA last semester, which is something I’ve always wanted to try,” Monique says.

“I also love to ask questions,” she says, “and I don’t think I’ve encountered even one professor at UB who wasn’t willing to answer them.”

When she is not in class or studying, Monique enjoys reading, creative writing, knitting and listening to musicals. In fact, her mother likes to joke that Monique has the interests of someone 80 — not 18.

But Monique has her sights set on being a dentist. Her great-grandfather and grandparents on one side of the family were dentists. Her parents, Kristna Kapur and Luis T. Mauleon Jr., also are dentists and have two offices in Ithaca, where Monique has helped since she was old enough to get working papers — first with administrative tasks and later as an assistant.

She hopes to join the family business one day, but also would like to teach in some capacity.

As for now, Monique will stay at UB. She will begin a five-year degree program that combines a master’s in oral sciences with a doctor of dental surgery from the School of Dental Medicine.

If she stays on track, Monique would earn her master’s in 2024 and her doctorate in 2027 — at the age of 23.

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