Teen prodigy Raymond Walter will graduate tomorrow with bachelor of science degrees in mathematics, physics, and economics. Next up, doctorates in math and physics. Why the rush? The wheelchair-using teen has a severe form of muscular dystrophy and feels there isn't much time.
Raymond has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy — a severe form of muscular dystrophy that worsens quickly. It's a genetic disorder that affects one in every 3,600 male births. Because it causes muscles to waste away, most patients have to start using a wheelchair by the time adolescence kicks in. Breathing difficulties and heart disease set in by the age of 20.
The average life expectancy for patients with DMD is around 25.
“I don’t anticipate living as long as usual,” Raymond told the University of Arkansas Newswire. “In some respects, there is a lot of pressure to get as much done as I can. I don’t waste time. I skipped three years of grade school and to some extent I’ve continued my acceleration since I reached the university level. I finished my undergraduate economics course work in my freshman year. So as a sophomore I began to take graduate courses.”
Raymond was just 14 when he graduated from high school.
His dad, Hal Water, says his son spends nearly every waking moment outside of class at his studies. Raymond goes to bed after midnight, every night. He doesn’t watch movies or play video games. And he sits at his computer with two desks worth of books which are typically open for 12 to 14 hours each day. “He works constantly.”
Along with his wife, Gail, the family lives on a 193-acre farm in Baxter County where they raise cattle, pigs, donkeys, and horses. Back during high school, Hal and Raymond commuted six hours round trip each weekend.
Raymond graduated from the University of Arkansas' J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and will now move to the Graduate School as a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow. The program provides a minimum of $30,000 annually for up to four years. Raymond also won a highly competitive $30,000 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for the forthcoming academic year.
More at the U of A Newswire.
Images via U of A.