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Mexico

Mexican student, 12, accepted at university but shrugs at ‘genius’ label

A university’s youngest student ever dreams of curing rare diseases

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 6:50am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 6:50am

The youngest student ever admitted to Mexico’s National Autonomous University would not call himself a genius.

Carlos Santamaria Diaz, a 12-year-old who will begin classes for an undergraduate degree in biomedical physics on Monday, was dwarfed by the upholstered blue chair he sat in to answer reporters’ questions on Friday.

With his feet barely brushing the floor, he laughed out loud and shook his head when a reporter asked if he considered himself a genius.

“I don’t like to use that word,” he said.

Carlos passed the university’s entrance exam and has already done preparatory work at the university’s school of chemistry in its genetics sciences centre.

The boy from western Guadalajara grew bored with public school at an early age and turned to the web where he taught himself calculus and physics. By the age of nine, he took part in university programmes in analytical chemistry, biochemistry and biology.

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Nervously running his hands through his hair and speaking passionately of finding cures for rare diseases, his behaviour seemed typical of a confident albeit young college student until the university’s photographer asked him to pose with a stuffed mascot and the boy emerged.

When asked if he ever felt isolated because of his intelligence, Carlos shrugged off the question: “The truth is, no, I feel like the university has been very good to me, especially the chemistry faculty.”

His mother, Arcelia Diaz, said that like any mom she was proud of her son.

Carlos offered advice to Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: “First off, I would tell him not to make the same mistakes as the previous presidents.”

Politicians should “take care of the country like they take care of themselves,” he said. “This a country filled with people who have dreams and at the same don’t have any dreams because they don’t have any opportunities.”

The university said Carlos would be treated like any other student, with no special privileges or benefits.