- BackstageTop contributor
- Posts : 3803
Join date : 2014-02-24
Eugenie de Silva
She became the world’s youngest person to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Intelligence Analysis with a 4.0 GPA at just 14 years old. She’s also recognized as the world’s youngest to earn a Master’s degree in Intelligence Studies, the UK’s youngest person to read for a PhD Academic Degree, the world’s youngest student in the Department of Politics and Harvard University’s youngest to graduate from any division, especially with a Master’s degree. In April 2014 she was also named as one of the top 30 thinkers under 30 by the Pacific Standard Magazine.
Meet Eugenie de Silva of Sri Lankan origin, the prodigy behind the illustrious accomplishments. Eugenie is your average teenager, and despite the brilliance, she’s not your textbook definition of a nerd. Like most girls her age, she enjoys beauty and modelling, pranking her friends and working out. Eugenie talks childhood, collegial experiences, proving herself and future plans.
Tell us about your childhood. Was it seeped in academia?
I certainly was raised in an environment that was conducive to learning, but my dad raised me to understand that having a balanced life was important. So, I maintained a good, fun social life, too.
Give us a synopsis of your education timeline?
University of Leicester – 2014 – Current – Ph.D. in Politics (Intelligence Studies – Denial and Deception Activities) – Research Supervisor: Professor Mark Phythian – All But Dissertation Completed.
Harvard University Division of Continuing Education (Harvard Extension School) – 2013 –2014 – Master’s in Liberal Arts in Extension Studies: Concentration in Legal Studies – Research Supervisor: Professor Bruce Hay / Thesis: An Analysis of Edward Snowden and His Actions. (Age 16)
American Military University – 2013 – 2014 - Master’s in Intelligence Studies: Concentration in Intelligence Analysis – Research Supervisor: Professor Joseph DiRenzo (4.0 GPA – Summa Cum Laude – Age 15) / Thesis: The Development of the Determining and Evaluating Truthfulness through Explicit Cue Testing (DETECT) Model to Detect Deception: Verbal and Nonverbal Cues.
American Military University – 2010- 2013- Bachelor’s in Intelligence Studies: Concentration in Intelligence Analysis – Graduated May 2013 – (4.0 GPA – Summa Cum Laude - Age 14)
Center for Distance and Independent Studies, University of Missouri – 2007 – 2010 – College Preparatory Diploma – Graduated 2010 – Age 11
Anne E. Moncure Elementary School – 2004 - 2007
St. Claire’s Roman Catholic Primary School – 2001 - 2004
What is life like for someone your age in a collegiate setting?
I don’t believe age should be considered when one is in a classroom or academic setting as long as one has the necessary abilities to maintain a good standing. I am confident in my abilities and knowledge, so I never considered myself as different although I was always the youngest in my courses. Of course, there are some individuals who seemingly become annoyed when they realise that I am so young and have already achieved so much, but that annoyance and anger, I believe, is deeply rooted in jealousy and bias. I am never arrogant about my background or achievements, since I feel that we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Nonetheless, when I am in higher academic settings and individuals try to purposefully attack me for my age I have always stood my ground and defended myself and will continue to do so. I have always been told that I am mature for my age, and I believe that maturity manifests itself in my ability to remain calm and rationally handle situations when I face age discrimination or even sex discrimination or racism.
Why intelligence studies?
When I think about intelligence studies, I cannot help but smile. I absolutely love the idea of contributing to the security and stability of a country. Those in the intelligence field typically do not receive much recognition for the hard work that is conducted on a daily basis; this is due to the primarily covert nature of the field. Thus, I feel there is a distorted view of the intelligence field, due to the covert dynamics.
For me, intelligence is an excellent way for me to contribute to my country by applying my analytical abilities. I have always enjoyed analytical and investigative activities, so the intelligence field is a good path for me. Further, my ultimate dream is to be the U.S. Secretary of Defense, so I hope to earn more professional experience in the field that will pave the path for me to move up in the ranks and one day earn that position.
What is your standpoint as a teenager foraying into the intelligence field? Do people question your maturity?
Of course, people question my maturity; in fact, people question everything about me, because many individuals are resistant to change and are unable to accept that such a young individual successfully completed her education in a field that even many adults would worry to be involved. My maturity has been proven by my professional work. At only fifteen years old, I independently interviewed a terrorist and I had no security or protection. My maturity will continue to be proven as I continue to work to protect citizens, even if I do not receive any recognition or support.
People love to question my maturity as a teenager, but I would kindly ask those people to diversify their perspectives to understand that not all teenagers are consumed with materialistic ventures or unhealthy social patterns as believed widely. Not every teenager has to be immature, and it is unfair to assume that every teenager is unable to be involved in a certain field simply because of their age. I understand that there are many teenagers who are not only unqualified, but are also too immature to be involved in a harsh field like intelligence and security, but we cannot and should not make generalizations.
You have achieved so much at a very young age. Are people usually intimidated by that?
I do believe that people are intimated once they find out about my achievements. I usually notice this by the fact that people who learn about my background tend to shy away from talking about academic topics or sometimes seem very awkward when they speak to me. However, many of my friends did not know about my achievements, which allowed them to first get to know me based on my personality, and then when they later learned about my background, they were able to more comfortably accept it.
People should not be intimidated by me, and it makes me laugh when I see someone act in that way or when I hear someone tell me that others were intimidated by me, because I consider myself to be one of the least judgmental people and I am very open and accepting. We are all humans and we should equally respect one another and treat each other with compassion.
Who are your role models?
My main role model is my dad. He works tirelessly every day to support me as a single dad. He has raised me alone since I was a baby and he always made sure that I was happy and that I was pursuing what would make me happy. He guided me on the right path, and provided me with academic freedom to choose what I wanted to do in life. Also, he is the most intelligent person that I know; he seems to know everything, so I always know if I ever need anything I can turn to him. Also, I feel that my desire to help others came from watching him help others on a daily basis without ever wanting to receive any recognition for it. I am extremely lucky to have a dad like him.
What are your passions?
My passion is intelligence and security. I have many activities that I enjoy, but nothing compares to how strongly I feel about my selected field.
What does no one know about you?
There are many, many things that people do not know about me; they only know what is printed in the media, but that is nowhere near the entire story. But, the first things that come to my mind is that people seem to assume that I am a textbook definition of a nerd who is very serious all the time, yet I am actually a very calm person, and I would like to assume that I am also a very funny person. I love to play pranks and make jokes whenever I can.
I am also the type of girl who is interested in beauty and modelling. I just recently got back into modelling and modeled for Linen and I in Sri Lanka at the Arcade in Independence Square. I don’t spend my entire days studying, because I am also slightly addicted to exercising. I love working out and pushing myself to be stronger every day. I also taught myself to play the piano when I was six years old, so I do that also in my free time.
How do you unwind?
I typically unwind by exercising, because it relieves stress and allows me to clear my mind. For instance, if I have a lot of work to complete, then I take a break and either do some push-ups, running, or other exercises. I also love to practice my knife throwing and shooting guns. In my area at home, the law doesn’t allow me to practice shooting, so I usually focus on my knife throwing. If I am not doing any physical activities, I like to write stories or my books since I like the freedom that writing provides.
What’s next for you?
Who knows? Haha, I am seemingly always enrolled in an academic program, so it would most probably not be surprising if I go on to earn more higher degrees. My dad just completed another doctorate in education, so maybe I will try and follow in his footsteps of continuing to earn higher degrees, but I have a feeling I will focus more on professional pursuits.
The Virginia Research Institute, where I work, also just set up a branch in Sri Lanka to help students skip the A/L and complete a high school equivalency and then earn their higher education. As a child prodigy, I believe there are many other young individuals who have the abilities and desires to complete their education at a faster pace. So, this venture with the Virginia Research Institute provides Sri Lankan students with these opportunities. In fact, interested students can contact the Institute simply by sending an email to email@example.com
I am also in the process of setting up my own health and beauty parlor in Sri Lanka to delve into a different field and provide more resources to those in Sri Lanka. Additionally, I am helping to set up a fitness and shooting range in the USA.
Finally, I recently founded the International Association of Child Prodigies (IACP) which serves to recognize young individuals who have proven their abilities at young ages. So, if anyone under the age of eighteen in Sri Lanka would like to apply to be recognized as an official child prodigy, they can visit www.officialchildprodigies.org and submit their application under the “Application” tab. It will be reviewed by an international review team, and then if the application is successful they will receive official recognition.
Interviewed by Rihaab Mowlana
- yellow knifeTop contributor
- Posts : 6980
Join date : 2014-03-27