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Tuesday, September 26, 2006
WASHINGTON - And you thought your kid was smart.
David Banh, an 18-year old fron Annandale, Va., just graduated from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, in one year. With double major.

His college education, almost entirely convered by a patchwork of scholdarships, cost him about $200. And he sold back textbooks for more than that . Now he's starting graduate study at University of Virginia with a research grant.

So at this point, he's technically running a profit.

Banh was helped by the fact that U-Va., a public school, costs a less than most private colleges, and that the university accepted many of his Advanced Placement credits from high school; many of the most selected private schools wouldn't. As it was, he doubled up on course credits and took more physics over the summer to finish his second major.

Many professors would like students to explore and expreiment in college rather than cram in as much as possible at top speed.

'He's one of a kind'
Still, "I've never seen anything like that before." said Donald Ramirez, professor and associate chairman of mathematics in U-Va.

"He's one of kind", said Vicki Doff, his counselor at the competitive magnet Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. "Absolutely amazing kid academically, incredibly persisten, bright, focused and determined. His academic record was a second to none".

Even in elementary school, he was trying to get ahead. His bus driver in kindergarten told his mother that the boy would do problems or tlak about lessons in on the bus with the other children, Kim Banh said. In 2nd grade, he told her he was bored and wanted harder math problems.

His parents pushed him. he liked learning new things rather than repeating what he already knew. He had a sort of low keyu competition with a smart girl at his school. His uncle helped tutor him. :It was nice to be ayear ahead", in math, he said, "It made me feel special when I was little".

By 8th grade, he said, most of the motivation came from him, not his parents. By his second year in high school, he was taking three Ap classes. He took more in following years.

"I sort of got a little addicted to it," he said.

Meanwhile, he had mastered bridge, competed in tournaments all over and ran the shcool club, which doubled in size.

Mother is proud, worried
His mother is proud but said she sometimes worried about the track he was on. "He didn't have time to do a lot of stuff", she said.

Banh went to U-Va. with the equivalent of 72 college credits. It takes 120 to graduate, and the school requires that at least half come from U-Va clsses.

The typical course load is 15 credits a semester.

His first semester, he took 23 credits and found he had more time than he did in high school to spend with friends, playing gavmes (video games or board games, he clarified, not drinking games). Or just hanging out.
"I don't feel like I missed out", he said. "most college was a euphoria."

He had low points, especially late in April when the workload for his 37 credits seemed crushing, and his grade started to slip - to some Bs.

He best part was when he finished his last exam and knew he'd done it; No matter what, he had a college degree. "If bag things happened, I could go out and make some decent living for myself".

The most important thing he learned in class, in math, was to construct a logical, coherent argument. And the most important thing he learned in college he said, "is to value the people you spend time with, your friends."

Now he's a grad student. His research project is on the stabilization of pressure in an accoustic chamber.

He expects to finish his master's degree this academic year. A dopctorate in math is possible.

More likely he'll go to law school. At night, while working.

He wants to be a patent attorney. Growing up with parents who arrived in the U.S. with very little and now work at the post office and in real estate, monery wasn't a problem exactly, but Banh would like to have a career that ensures he does'nt have to think about money.

He's not super-competitive, he said. But sometimes, it's good to have someone, or something to compete with .

"Everyone" he said, "needs a little more motivation".

(source:SUNCHICTRIB by: Susan Kinzie The Washington Post)
posted by infraternam meam @ 10:34 PM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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